United States District Court, D. New Mexico
L. KIRK TOMPKINS and SUSIE TOMPKINS, Plaintiffs,
LIFEWAY CHRISTIAN RESOURCES OF THE SOUTHERN BAPTIST CONVENTION, THOM RAINER, President of Lifeway, JERRY L. RHYNE, C.F.O. of Lifeway, LARRY D. CANNON, Sec. of Lifeway, DAVID WEEKLEY, Director of Glorieta 2.0, TERRY LOOPER, Director of Glorieta 2.0, LEONARD RUSSO, Director of Glorieta 2.0, ANTHONY SCOTT, Director of Glorieta 2.0, HAL HILL, Consulting Director of Glorieta 2.0, LINDA K. DEAN, Trustee of Lifeway, and JEFF WARD, Director of Finance, Glorieta 2.0, Defendants.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
CHRISTINA ARMIJO United States District Judge.
MATTER is before the Court on Defendants' motions to
dismiss Counts I-V of the Complaint and for sanctions (Docs.
23, 24, 25, and 49). Also before the Court is Plaintiffs'
motion seeking leave to file a surreply (Doc. 66). Defendants
argue Plaintiffs' pro se Complaint is abusive,
barred by preclusion principles, and fails to state a
cognizable claim. For the reasons set out below, the Court
will deny leave to file a surreply; deny Defendants'
motions to dismiss Counts I - IV without prejudice, but grant
leave to amend those claims; dismiss Count V; and decline to
impose sanctions at this time.
limited purpose of this ruling, the Court assumes the
relevant facts taken from Plaintiff's complaint are true.
Southern Baptist Convention (“SBC”) owned certain
real property in New Mexico and Tennessee. (Doc. 20, p.
12-14). SBC had a business relationship with Defendant
Lifeway Christian Resources (“Lifeway”).
Id. at p. 12-13. Plaintiffs own, or used to own, a
residential dwelling located at 304 Aspen Rd. in Glorieta,
New Mexico (“Aspen Property”). Id. at p.
7-8; 16. Construed liberally, the Complaint appears to allege
the Aspen Property was part of the Glorieta Conference Center
(“GCC Property”), a project managed by Lifeway.
Id. at p. 2, 13-15. The GCC Property sits on 2, 500
acres and features single family homes, a religious retreat,
camp buildings, a resort, and a conference center.
Id. at p. 18.
2013, Glorieta 2.0 Inc. (“Glorieta 2.0”)
expressed interest in purchasing the GCC Property.
Id. at p. 14-15. Glorieta 2.0 director David Weekley
met with the GCC Property homeowners, including Plaintiffs,
to discuss the sale. Id. Plaintiffs were not
permitted to bring legal representatives or real estate
brokers to the meeting. Id. at p. 39. Weekley knew
the GCC Property was worth $12 million, but he only
“allocated” $2.5 million to the purchase.
Id. at p. 15. Glorieta 2.0 purchased the GCC
Property in September 2013. Id. Lifeway took the
position that it sold the GCC land to Glorieta 2.0 without
selling any dwelling houses. Id. at p. 23. The
purchase contract therefore included an option for Plaintiffs
to sell the home on the Aspen Property (presumably to
Glorieta 2.0) for $84, 999. Id.
to Plaintiffs, Glorieta 2.0's contract to purchase the
GCC Property is “void on the basis of
unconscionability.” Id. at p. 34. Plaintiffs
also refused the $84, 999 purchase offer on the home because
it was insulting and unconscionable. Id. at p.
23-24. Thereafter, Defendants embarked on “a complex
scheme leading to egregious heinous damages inflicted on
Plaintiffs in efforts to make [them] accept an Unconscionable
Contract Offer for [their] Private Property.”
Id. at p. 16, 23. Specifically, Defendants
represented that the GCC Property lost revenue; published
deceitful articles in Baptist newsletters; and misrepresented
information at a Baptist conference. Id. at p. 21.
Defendants also misrepresented the terms of the GCC Property
sale and falsified property records to “explain away
errors in … previous … sales contracts.”
Id. at p. 18, 23-24, 29. These tactics devalued
Plaintiff's home and prevented them from selling the
property for fair market value. Id. at p. 25.
Plaintiffs allege Glorieta 2.0's directors intentionally
engaged in such misconduct to profit at the homeowners'
expense. Id. at p. 32.
following years, Plaintiffs submitted five written requests
to “discuss problematic conditions” on the GCC
Property, including waste management issues. Id. at
p. 27-28. Then, in 2016, Plaintiffs confirmed Lifeway, its
agents, and “representatives at ‘GCC'”
used the GCC Property as an illegal dump site for toxic
waste. Id. at p. 28, 35. The problem purportedly
existed for at least 40 years. Id. at p. 28. The
toxic materials included: “additional debris from
renovations;” “asbestos;” “hazardous
building materials;” “chemicals;”
“carcinogens;” and “black mold” in
the eating facility. Id. at p. 36, 38, and 40.
Plaintiffs and their children were exposed to the dump site
in the 1980's, and they ate at the dining hall containing
black mold. Id. at p. 35, 38. Lifeway failed to
inform residents about the toxic areas and instead attempted
to escape liability by selling the GCC Property to Glorieta
2.0. Id. at p. 35.
to the Complaint, such misconduct caused “unknown
health problems over several decades” and
“anxiety for years to come.” Id. at p.
36, 38. Plaintiffs further allege that “at the time of
death of [their] Paternal father, the ‘HIDDEN'
hazards created and unattended at ‘GCC' had been on
the ‘GCC' Property within ½ mile from”
their religious retreat/dwelling home. Id. at p. 41.
Lifeway and Glorieta 2.0 are allegedly under criminal
investigation for illegal dumping and other violations of
environmental law. Id. at p. 39.
also allege Defendants abused Mike Adney, a third party.
Id. at p. 42. Adney functions as Plaintiff's
“Trustee.” Id. He resides at the Aspen
Property house “for security, ” and presumably to
maintain a presence until the dispute over ownership is
resolved. Id. Glorieta 2.0 Director Jeff Ward
allegedly threatened and harassed Adney in an attempt to
extort Plaintiffs. Id. Such conduct caused
Plaintiffs to experience “mental distress” and
denied them “meaningful rest leading to
on the foregoing, Plaintiffs filed an Amended Verified
Complaint for Civil Fraud, Denial of Constitutional Due
Process, Unconscionable Contract, Breach of Fiduciary Duty,
and Extortion (“Complaint”). (Doc. 20). The
claims are broken down as follows:
(Count 1): Fraud, which relates to the sale of the GCC
Property and the purchase offer on the Aspen Property
dwelling house. (Doc. 20, p. 20-26)
(Count II): Denial of Constitutional Due Process, which
relates to the sale of the GCC Property, the purchase offer,
and the “taking” of the Aspen Property. (Doc. 20,
(Count III): Unconscionable Contract, which relates to unjust
enrichment, the purchase offer, and the sale contract for the
GCC Property. (Doc. 20, p. 30-34).
(Count IV): Breach of Fiduciary Duty, which relates to the
failure to properly dispose of toxic waste and inform
residents of the attendant risks. (Doc. 20, p. 35-41).
(Count V): Extortion, which relates to the threats against
Adney. (Doc. 20, p. 42-43). Plaintiffs seek $800, 000 in
damages, plus punitive damages in an amount to be ...