FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 24, 2014
JUDGE DENIES DEFENDANTS’ CLAIM THAT ATHEISTS OF FLORIDA IS A CHURCH
Tampa, Fla. — In a court hearing today, a judge for the 13th Florida Circuit Court denied defendant Edward “Golly” Gollobith’s attorney’s Motion to Dismiss a defamation lawsuit filed December 2011 by the plaintiff, EllenBeth Wachs.
Mr. Gollobith and his eight codefendants, through their attorney, argued that the Church Abstention Doctrine protected them from such a defamation lawsuit by asserting that Atheists of Florida, Inc., for which Mr. Gollobith and his codefendants were board members at the time, was a church and that the 1st Amendment mandated that courts stay out of “internal spiritual” affairs. The judge disagreed and, by his denying their Motion to Dismiss, Ms. Wachs’ defamation complaint may now continue.
Mr. Gollobith and his codefendants must formally respond to Ms. Wachs’ complaint within 20 days or risk default.
We’re a church … really !!!
L-R: Nan Owens, Gloria Julius, Tracy Thomas, Ed “Golly” Gollobith (4 of 10 Defendants in
Defamation Lawsuit: ELLENBETH WACHS, Plaintiff v. EDWARD GOLLOBITH, et al, Defendants)
1. The Motion to Dismiss Wachs’ Amended Complaint be and is hereby DENIED without prejudice to make further arguments concerning the applicability of the Ecclesiastical Abstention Doctrine in the future.
2. Atheists of Florida, Inc.’s Motion to Dismiss Amended Counterclaim
filed by EllenBeth Wachs be and is hereby DENIED without prejudice to make further arguments concerning the applicability of the Ecclesiastical Abstention Doctrine in the future.
3. The Defendants Edward Gollobith, Tracy Thomas, Nan Owens, Steve
Brown, Matt Cooper, Gloria Julius, Steve Miles, James Peterson, Wallace
Reinhardt and Atheists of Florida, Inc. shall file their answers to the Amended Complaint in Case No. 11-CA-0 15545 within 20 days from the date of this Order.