WATERLOO — A judge dismissed a wrongful death lawsuit against Joyce Meyer Ministries who employed Christopher Coleman, the man convicted of the murders of his wife and children.
Associate Judge Richard Aguirre dismissed the suit against the ministry after arguments on Wednesday afternoon by Tony Romanucci, the Chicago attorney for the survivors of Sheri Coleman, 31, and her sons Garett, 11, and Gavin, 9, who were found strangled in their beds in their Columbia home on May 5, 2009, and Mike King, the lawyer for Joyce Meyer Ministries where Christopher Coleman was employed as Joyce Meyer's personal bodyguard.
"This is not an easy case for the court," Aguirre said. "Ultimately, it will be decided by a court to the east. I feel good about having a panel of three judges look at this."
Aguirre will certify his ruling so it can be reviewed by the Fifth Appellate Court in Mount Vernon at the request of Romanucci.
Christopher Coleman, 35 who is serving life without parole, earned a six-figure salary with the ministry. Prosecutors theorized that Christopher Coleman killed his family, so that he could keep his job with the ministry and be with his mistress, Florida dog track waitress Tara Lintz.
He used a ministry-issued computer to send death threats to his family after he began a relationship with Lintz, his wife's friend. Coleman went to the police, but Romanucci argued the ministry, who knew the Colemans were experiencing marital problems and provided marriage counseling, could have discovered the threats were coming from Christopher Coleman, if they bothered to look.
But King countered that under Illinois law, the employer is not the insurer of an employee's conduct.
Even if the ministry found that Coleman sent the threats and was engaged in an extramarital affair, Aguirre said, "I cannot find that the ministry could foresee the brutal murder of this family by one of its employees."
Contact reporter Beth Hundsdorfer at firstname.lastname@example.org or 618-239-2570.