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Judge dismisses Klouda suit against Southwestern Seminary, Patterson


FORT WORTH, Texas (BP) — A federal judge has ruled in favor of Southwestern Seminary and its president, Paige Patterson, in a lawsuit by a former theology professor who claimed she was wrongly dismissed from a tenure-track position because she is a woman.

Sheri L. Klouda filed the federal employment lawsuit alleging breach of contract, fraud, and related claims on March 8, 2007, and had sought unspecified damages and a jury trial.

Instead, in a ruling filed March 20 in U.S. District Court in Fort Worth, Texas, Judge John McBryde signed a judgment granting “summary judgment” dismissing “all of her alleged actions against defendants” and ordering Klouda to cover the plaintiffs’ court costs.

Patterson, in a statement following the judge’s decision, said: “My response is simply one of gratitude to God and to a host of people. ... Americans everywhere may still rejoice in freedom of faith and the ordering of their churches and institutions accordingly.”

The defendants’ attorneys had argued that the court had no jurisdiction because Klouda’s tenure denial was on constitutionally protected religious grounds.

The judge agreed, writing in his ruling that seminary faculty are “hired, assigned, advanced, tenured, evaluated, and terminated on predominantly religious criteria” and that Klouda’s classes “had sectarian goals.”