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Jury Awards $108.6 Million

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 verdict, 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.