$300,000: He says he was fired after he stopped adhering to the strict faith
A former member of a polygamous church on the Utah-Arizona border who claimed he was fired from his job as a salesman because he no longer adhered to the faith has asked a federal judge to order the sect and its leader to pay him more than $300,000 in compensatory damages.
Lawyers for Shem Fischer, who in 2000 left his job with Forestwood Co., a wooden cabinet-making business based in Hildale, on Wednesday filed a report in a federal lawsuit from a business appraiser placing the present value of his economic loss at $338,411.
The attorneys are requesting that U.S. District Judge Dale Kimball order the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS) and its president, Warren Jeffs to pay that amount. They forfeited the right to defend themselves against allegations that they orchestrated the firing and blacklisting of Fischer by failing to respond to the wrongful firing suit.
The lawyers reserved the right to later argue that their client also is owed punitive damages.
The suit initially was filed only against Forestwood but later was amended to add Jeffs and the FLDS Church as defendants. In March 2005, Fischer won a certificate of default against the church’s governing bodies and Jeffs, but held off on requesting a payment while he pressed forward with the case against the remaining defendant, Forestwood.
Last month, Kimball granted a motion to dismiss the case against Forestwood after its attorney, Rod Parker, argued that Fischer voluntarily quit his job.
The judge then directed Fischer to inform him of the amount of damages he was claiming against Jeffs and the FLDS. Those defendants can still dispute the amount requested.
Jeffs, who has been charged in Utah and Arizona with sex abuse counts based on his alleged role in marrying minor girls to older men, has dropped out of sight and is wanted on a federal charge of unlawful flight to avoid prosecution.
The FLDS Church and Jeffs also are defendants in three lawsuits filed in Utah’s 3rd District Court by former members. They have not been defending themselves in those legal actions, which are pending.