Appeals court upholds $280,000 award against Joyce Meyer Ministries

Partner Matthew J. Devoti

In March 2014, Gwendolyn Medley represented by Casey & Devoti, won a personal injury case against Joyce Meyer Ministries.  A jury in the City of St. Louis found the Ministries to be 70 percent at fault and Gwendolyn to be 30 percent at  fault.  She was awarded $280,000 following a five day trial.  Matt Devoti represented the woman at trial and was assisted by Josh Harp of the Harp Law Firm in Frankfort, Kentucky.

Gwendolyn Medley v. Joyce Meyer Ministries Inc.

On Tuesday, April 7, 2015, an appeals court upheld the $280,000 personal injury award against Joyce Meyer Ministries, saying a judge was right to exclude evidence and a jury instruction that would have directed blame to a convention center operator.

Attorneys for Joyce Meyers Ministries argued on appeal that St. Louis Circuit Court Judge Edward Sweeney should have allowed evidence about the St. Louis Convention & Visitors Commission’s role with the conference and it’s licensing agreement with Joyce Meyers Ministries.

A three-judge panel of the Missouri Court of Appeals Eastern District said in an opinion written by Judge Robert Clayton III that Judge Sweeney was right to exclude the evidence and the jury instruction.  Two other judges on the panel agreed with the opinion. The nonprofit was the “possessor” of the premises and liable because it exercised control over them, the opinion said.

Gwendolyn Medley attended Joyce Meyer’s “Love Life” Women’s Conference in September 2010 at the Edward Jones Dome in downtown St. Louis.  She injured both of her legs when she fell into a “window display” constructed by the ministry’s carpenters.  Her most significant injury was a severe abrasion to her left shin, which later became infected and caused major inflammation in her lower left extremity.  She was diagnosis with Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy, which is more commonly known as Complex Regional Pain Syndrome.

The window display was erected in a boutique area where Joyce Meyer Ministries sold souvenirs, including logo t-shirts, bags and jewelry.  It resembled a store front or shadow box and was placed in an area in the boutique in which the ministry routed women from the boutique’s sales floor after they paid for their purchases.

Several conference attendees and multiple Joyce Meyer employees described the area as “congested” and “crowded” when the firm’s client fell.  These same witnesses also said that conference attendees were standing “shoulder-to-shoulder” and had limited sight distance.  The window display served no purpose other than to look aesthetically pleasing and to draw women into the boutique.  The ministry’s employees admitted at trial that they could have just as easily placed the window display outside of the boutique and in the main concourse of the Edward Jones Dome where its presence would have achieved both purposes.

 

 

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