The 1981 lawsuit by Marian Guinn, who was labeled a fornicator
from the pulpit of the Church of Christ in Collinsville,
has been settled out of court.
Church attorney Truman Rucker of Tulsa declined to discuss
any settlement terms.
"The case is over," Rucker said Friday.
District Judge David Peterson ordered the release of an
appeal bond posted by the church.
Peterson said he was not told any settlement details. He
said he thinks the parties plan to keep those terms confidential.
Attorneys for Ms. Guinn, who reportedly lives in Arizona,
could not be reached for comment.
In March 1984, a Tulsa jury awarded Ms. Guinn $390,000 in
damages against the church and three elders for invasion
of privacy, publication of private facts, and intentional
infliction of emotional distress.
That four-day trial unfolded before 200-plus spectactors
who packed a standing-room-only courtroom. Veteran observers
said it was likely the most highly publicized and closely
watched civil trial in Tulsa County District Court history.
In January, the State Supreme Court threw out the $390,000
judgment. It said Ms. Guinn could have a new trial.
The Supreme Court ruled she could seek damages for injuries
she said she suffered after she withdrew membership from
the church, but not for alleged injuries sustained while
a member. Regarding damages, no distinction was made at
the trial between those time frames, the opinion said.
"We were relatively pleased with that decision," Rucker
The settlement eliminates any new trial and means the U.S.
Supreme Court will not review the state high court's ruling.
Ms. Guinn joined the Collinsville church in 1974. She was
branded as a fornicator at a 1981 service that she didn't
At the trial Ms. Guinn - then a 36-year-old registered nurse
and divorced mother of four - conceded she was guilty of
the allegation. She said the church and elders had no right
to bring the matter before the congregation of 110 to 125
The church maintained that by its Biblical beliefs it had
not only a right, but an obligation, to discipline a wayward
member and protect the church's reputation.
Under church doctrine the elders did not accept Ms. Guinn's
letter of resignation, which she said she submitted nine
days prior to the crucial Sunday service.
Before the trial, the church appealed to the U.S. Supreme
Court in an unsuccessful attempt to keep a state court from
hearing what the church considered to be a matter of internal
Six months after the 1984 verdict, the church deposited
$480,000 with the court clerk's office as a bond to prevent
Ms. Guinn from collecting any money during the appeal.
Additional bond deposits totaling $75,000 were made in 1987
and 1988. Accumulated interest pushed the total amount of
bond money to more than $740,000, a court clerk's spokesman
Friday, Peterson ordered the county treasurer's office to
release that money to the Collinsville Church of Christ.