Last month, Evangelical Dark Web reported that the lawsuit filed against David Platt’s Church, McLean Bible Church on behalf of its members was dismissed prior to depositions. But it appears that the fight is not over just yet. The plaintiffs in the lawsuit representing the members of the church have appealed the dismissal. According to their press release, they have three primary grounds on which they are making an appeal.
The Plaintiffs’ Petition for Appeal makes three primary arguments.
First, Virginia law forbids a court to dismiss a case on a Plea in Bar if no evidence is submitted in support. At the June 24 hearing, MBC presented no evidence to support its claims that it had conducted a proper election in June. (In fact, the election was again conducted illegally, by procedures in violation of the MBC constitution). The Circuit Court was in error, and the grant of the Plea in Bar should be overturned.
Second, Virginia law is clear that a case is not moot if either if two exceptions applies. The first exception is if a case is “capable of repetition yet evading review.” As in this case, MBC simply held another election (again under illegal procedures) and claims the case is moot because a year has intervened. But without court action, MBC is free to continue to deny the rights of its members in future elections as it did in 2021. Accordingly, the Board’s actions in violation of MBC’s constitution have not been mooted by holding a new election (again under illegal procedures that violate the MBC constitution), and the case falls under the first exception to the mootness doctrine. So the Circuit Court was in error, and its grant of a Plea in Bar should be overturned.
Third, the case also falls under the “voluntary cessation of illegal activity” exception to the mootness doctrine. A party cannot act wrongfully, then after being sued simply stop the wrongful action and claim the court is prevented from redressing it. So the Circuit Court was in error, and the Plea in Bar should be overturned.
The plaintiffs’ Petition for Appeal points out that MBC’s June 2022 Elder vote does nothing to remedy the wrong from the illegal 2021 election. According to MBC’s documents submitted at the Plea in Bar hearing, only persons in the “active member database” even received notice of the June 2022 vote for Elders. Although MBC claimed purged members would be allowed to vote at the June meeting, only the Board’s chosen persons in the “active member database” received notice of the vote, while illegally purged members were not provided notice. In addition, over multiple occasions in December 2021, March 2022 and May 2022 (just before the June 2022 vote on Elders) the Board added a combined hundreds of new handpicked MBC members who would support the Board’s chosen candidates, while denying even notice of the vote to illegally purged members from 2021.
Accordingly, plaintiffs ask the Court of Appeals to rule that the plaintiffs’ claims have not been addressed, no free and fair election open to all members in good standing as of July 2021 has been held, the case is not moot, and the grant of a Plea in Bar should be overturned.
Additionally, this comes right after Capstone Report uncovered that David Platt used his church to fund printing and marketing for his book justifying Democrats.
This is an ongoing story.