FLDS lawsuit against Utah dismissed by federal judge
Published: February 7, 2013 05:02PM
Updated: February 7, 2013 05:02PM
image
Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune FLDS member Mary Harker, right, speaks with UEP trust administrator Bruce Wisan following a 2009 court hearing.

Left with no other options, a federal judge has dismissed an FLDS lawsuit that would have wrested control of land away from the state.

Bruce Wisan — the fiduciary appointed to the state to oversee the trust and a defendant in the lawsuit — called U.S. District Court Judge Dee Benson’s decision “expected.” The decision may also eventually clear the way for Wisan to sell UEP property, though he is currently under orders by a different judge to not sell anything. Selling property is necessary to pay debts incurred by the UEP, including $5.6 million owed to Wisan.

In his ruling issued Thursday, Benson dismissed a lawsuit against the state of Utah and various officials. Benson’s ruling is a response to a Nov. 5 ruling in the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver.

That ruling — which also sided with an earlier Utah Supreme Court decision — determined the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints had waited too long to challenge the state’s 2005 take over of the United Effort Plan, a trust that owns most of the church’s property.

Benson’s dismissal means that the FLDS lawsuit has finally been defeated. However, it previously was the source of significant conflict; the FLDS initially ignored the state’s effort to take over the trust, then filed the suit in 2008. The Utah Supreme Court threw the suit out in 2010, but the FLDS responded by going to federal court where Benson ruled in the church’s favor.

The 10th Circut Court eventually settled the conflict by stating that Benson shouldn’t even have considered the case because it already had been dismissed.

In other words, the long and short of that convoluted tale is that finally all the various courts are on the same page: they either agree that they aren’t considering the case, or that the FLDS waited to long to fight the state.

jdalrymple@sltrib.com

Twitter: jimmycdii