Waterloo, IL (KSDK) - A judge has dismissed a lawsuit against Joyce Meyer Ministries filed by family of a Columbia, Illinois woman murdered by her husband.
Christopher Coleman was convicted of triple murder on May 5, 2011, exactly two years after his wife, Sheri, and their sons, Gavin and Garrett, were found strangled in their home.
The suit by Sheri Coleman's family claimed Chris Coleman's employer, Fenton-based Joyce Meyer Ministries, knew about the threats made against the family and could have done more to prevent their deaths.
Monroe County Associate Judge Richard Aguirre said Sheri Coleman's family can rewrite and refile its complaint within 30 days of the ruling.
The issue was not whether Joyce Meyer's Ministry had any knowledge that Coleman may have been plotting to kill his family, but whether they had a duty to report that knowledge. Meyer's attorney said the ministry did not know about Chris Coleman's plans. And even if they did, there's nothing in Illinois law that would have required them to take action.
Lawyers for Sheri Coleman's family said the ministry had knowledge of threats against the family and offered them security services. They said the ministry was negligent by offering those services and then doing nothing to protect the family.
However, attorneys for Joyce Meyer said those security services were declined.
Legal consultant Don Wolff said, "Sometime plaintiffs, not intentionally, file what are called deficient complaints. They don't state enough facts in order to file a claim against somebody; although we feel there is a claim to be made. And that's what happened in this case."
And Wolff says it is relevant that these issues did not come up during the criminal trial.
"And if there was a case as it was alleged in these proceedings it could have also been a crime of failing to report to the police. And of course they were never charged with the crime of suppressing evidence or failing to report information to the police department," said Wolff.
Chris Coleman was sentenced to life in prison without parole for the murders days after his conviction.