A Tarrant County, Texas, jury delivered a $3.7 million verdict against Crossroads Christian Church for failing to provide supplemental retirement benefits to its former executive pastor and his wife.
According to a press release from Dallas employment law boutique Clouse Brown PLLC, Mel Dietz, who previously served as executive pastor from 1995 to 2015, helped oversee church operations and multiple construction projects. His wife, Vicki Dietz, worked directly for Crossroads’ Senior Pastor, Barry Cameron, and was Cameron’s executive assistant for more than 20 years. The Dietzes were both participants in Crossroads’ Supplemental Retirement Plan.
During trial, the Dietzes presented evidence showing that supplemental retirement benefits were improperly taken in November 2011 and placed in Crossroads’ “We Believe” building campaign to help fund construction of a children’s building after the church came up $22 million short in pledges and contributions needed to build the children’s building and a youth building.
Regarding the jury verdict in Dietz v. Crossroads Christian Church, Andrew Stubblefield, lead trial counsel for Crossroads and an attorney with Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP, provided the following statement to PLANADVISER:
“Crossroads is extremely pleased that the jury found no merit in the overwhelming majority of the plaintiffs’ claims. Specifically, the jury voted unanimously to reject claims for breach of an alleged employment contract, fraud, negligent misrepresentation, and promissory estoppel. The jury’s sole finding in the plaintiffs’ favor was apparently based on specific language in Crossroads’ long-since-terminated Supplemental Retirement Plan, which the Church had planned to extend to the entire pastoral staff.
“Crossroads is disappointed that compelling evidence was not present to provide the jury with additional facts, which could have changed the outcome of the jury’s decision about the Supplemental Retirement Plan.
“Crossroads remains unfailingly committed to its mission, its ministry, and its members. Once the verdict is finalized, the Church will weigh its options for further action.”