- (Photo: C3 Conference via The Christian Post)
A Monroe County, Ill., judge on Tuesday dismissed the wrongful death lawsuit against Joyce Meyer Ministries that involved the murder of her former bodyguard's family.
Christopher Coleman, who worked for the ministry as Joyce Meyer's bodyguard, was accused of killing his wife, Sheri, and their two sons, Garrett and Gavin, at their home in Columbia, Ill., on May 5, 2009. Coleman was convicted by a jury in May 2011 and is serving out three life sentences without the possibility of parole.
The wrongful death lawsuit filed by Sheri Coleman's family against Joyce Meyer Ministries claimed that the deaths could have been prevented if the organization had conducted a proper investigation into the email threats that attacked Sheri and her family.
Attorneys representing Joyce Meyer Ministries said the lawsuit failed to cite any evidence that the ministry was at fault. The lawsuit "lacked merit because the ministry had nothing to do with the deaths. They also said that the lawsuit was vague and lacked specifics," according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
The lawsuit claimed that the ministry should have been aware that Coleman was a threat, because he was sending the threatening messages to his family from his employee-issued computer and cell phone.
In August, The Christian Post reported that the Joyce Meyer Ministries' legal defense team noted that the ministry had indeed notified police, and a surveillance camera had even been set up to monitor the Coleman home, but unfortunately that had not been enough to prevent the murders.
During the murder trial, lawyers for Sheri's family said that Coleman killed his wife and sons so that he could be with his mistress, Tara Lintz, and start a new life in Florida. They also said that he wanted to protect his job as a bodyguard working for Joyce Meyer Ministries, which he risked losing, if he filed for divorce. Coleman eventually resigned from his position at Joyce Meyer Ministries after being questioned about a violation of the ministry's moral conduct policy.
In 2011, Meyer testified that she was unaware that Coleman was having an affair until she was informed by the police.
This is the second time the courts have thrown out a claim by Sheri Coleman's family. A similar lawsuit was dismissed in September 2012. Judge Richard Aguirre signed the order dismissing the lawsuit, but said that it can be re-filed within 30 days.
"Of course, there's no case like this in any court of law," Judge Aguirre said last year, noting that this was a unique case and there wasn't a comparable one out there to draw precedent from.
Meyer is a Charismatic Christian author and speaker whose ministry is headquartered in the St. Louis suburb of Fenton, Mo.
The Christian Post contacted Joyce Meyer Ministries for comment, but did not receive a response by the time of publication.