After trial last week, the jury deliberated for two hours. They then awarded
the Plaintiffs $108.6 million. The award was in favor of Gail and Darrell
Mansfield of Kingsville, Mo. against a religious group, including the
Horner's, who were allegedly the leaders of the group. They were the
parents of Misty Mansfield. Misty died a month after giving birth to a
stillborn baby at home.
The allegations were that a religious group messed up the delivery of the
child, used unsterilized household scissors during the delivery, and then
prevented Misty from receiving the urgent care she needed, which led to
her suffering and dying of infection. Misty died in early January 2007,
31 days after the baby was stillborn.
Apparently, Misty had voluntarily taken part in everything as she was part
of this group, that the Plaintiffs' lawyer labeled a cult. After the
wrongful death attorney stated, "Now the Horners and every other cult like them
will get the message that they cannot hide behind the cross or religious
freedom when they brainwash and manipulate."
Some are concerned that such a verdict will limit religious freedom. Alas,
does a person have the right to submit to this, or not? Horner stated,
"Will people in this country still have the right to believe what
they want to believe?"
The jury awarded $8.6 million in actual damages, $40 million in punitive
damages against John Horner, $40 million against Caleb Horner, and $20
million against Amber Leathers. Amber was present during the delivery
of the child.
At a fundamental legal level, one has to ask about causation. Horner stated
that there was no real direct link between the defendants and the infection
that killed Misty Mansfield. He denied that he prevented Mansfield "from
making a fully informed decision." Caleb Horner said Misty had the
right to make her own decision. On a Constitutional level, similar cases
have been decided in favor of the Defendant based on the First Amendment
Freedom of Religion.