Judge again sides with ministry in Coleman wrongful death suit

A judge dismissed counts against Joyce Meyer Ministries in a recently refiled wrongful death lawsuit against the ministry and its former employee, Chris Coleman, during a hearing held Wednesday afternoon at the Monroe County Courthouse.

Lawyers for the family of Sheri Coleman, who was found murdered along with her two sons inside their Columbia home on May 5, 2009, refiled paperwork in October after a judge dismissed counts against the ministry for lack of specificity. 

Today before Judge Richard Aguirre, ministry attorney Mike King said the amended lawsuit “still falls short” of connecting the ministry to these horrible crimes. King added the ministry has a standard electronic communications policy that allows them to check computers and terminate employees for harmful materials or activity, if discovered. But this does not equate to a duty to investigate every employee or provide security for family members of an employee’s family. 

“It says ‘we may,’ not ‘we shall’ investigate,” King stressed. 

The lawsuit claims the ministry “knew or should have known” Chris Coleman had sent death threats aimed at himself and his family using ministry computers before he killed his family, and that the ministry should have known he was having an extra-marital affair.

An attorney for Sheri’s family, Tony Romanucci, told the judge that a “minimal effort” by the ministry would have uncovered these threats and the affair, and that “we wouldn’t be here today” if it had.

Judge Aguirre sided with the ministry’s argument, citing foreseeability as the key factor in this case.

“I cannot concede in any way how Joyce Meyer Ministries is guilty of foreseeing that an employee would kill his family,” he said in his ruling.

Also representing Sheri’s family, attorney Jack Carey of Belleville expressed disappointment in the ruling, but added it was “not totally unpredictable.”

“We will take this appeal to Mount Vernon,” Carey said.

Christopher Coleman is serving three concurrent life sentences in prison following his 2011 conviction. His criminal case is currently being appealed.

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Corey Saathoff

Corey is the editor of the Republic-Times. He has worked at the newspaper since 2004, and currently resides in Columbia. He is also the principal singer-songwriter and plays guitar in St. Louis area country-rock band The Trophy Mules.
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