The Salt Lake Tribune, Feb. 18, 2003
But for a third time, a Utah court has dismissed Jason Miles Williams’ lawsuit against the estate of Rulon Jeffs, the late leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (FLDS).
U.S. District Court Judge Dale Kimball said in a decision released late Friday that Williams’ arguments fell short because they were identical to those offered and rejected by 5th District Judge James L. Shumate and the Utah Court of Appeals in recent years.
In the alienation of affection lawsuit filed last October, Williams claimed his former wife was counseled by Jeffs and other “elders of the church” to leave their Colorado City, Ariz., home and divorce him.
Williams is a former member of the church that practices polygamy in the twin border cities of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz. Jeffs died on Sept. 8, 2002 at 92.
The FLDS Church is an offshoot of the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which banned polygamy among its members in 1890.
The $20 million lawsuit had asked that church leaders “cease and desist from unlawfully influencing [his] children’s beliefs.”
“Defendants have irreparably destroyed plaintiff’s marital state, his children’s well-being and stable happiness that they once enjoyed,” the lawsuit stated.
Williams’ attorney, Christopher Edwards of Hurricane, had claimed that the federal court was the proper venue for the lawsuit because a similar suit filed in state court in 1999 was tossed by Shumate.
Last July, the Utah Court of Appeals upheld Shumate’s dismissal, finding that Arizona law, which does not recognize alienation of affection, applied. The judges also found Williams failed to prove his suffering warranted recovery for intentional infliction of emotional distress.
In Kimball’s four-page written decision, the judge said he agreed with the reasoning of the Utah Court of Appeals.
That court “found that Williams’ emotional distress cause of action, claiming that he suffered the loss of his wife’s love and affection as well as future of his family, did not rise to the level of outrageousness necessary for the claim to be actionable,” Kimball wrote.
“Although [Williams’] causes of action in this case are now styled as civil rights claims, they are based on the same set of facts that were basis for [his] state court action,” the judge concluded.