Governments Must Pay $800K in Legal Fees to Church for COVID-19 Overreach

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California officials have agreed to pay $800,000 in prevailing-party attorneys’ fees to a popular Christian megachurch in Los Angeles after state and federal courts in California issued permanent injunctions barring government officials there from ever again imposing discriminatory restrictions on houses of worship.

In the United States, unsuccessful litigants only rarely have to pay their opponents’ legal fees, even when their cases are weak.

Although it’s common in other parts of the Anglosphere such as the United Kingdom and Canada for the unsuccessful party in civil litigation to be required to pay the legal costs of the successful litigant, it’s “very rare” for it to happen in the United States, Paul Jonna, Thomas More Society special counsel, told The Epoch Times.

The Thomas More Society, a national public interest law firm, represented Grace Community Church (GCC) and Pastor John MacArthur in legal proceedings that began in March 2020 when California and local governments initiated a sweeping response to combat SARS-CoV-2, the CCP virus that causes the disease COVID-19. Government officials repeatedly tried to shut down in-person church attendance after the pandemic began.

On Aug. 31, the Board of Supervisors of the County of Los Angeles voted to approve the settlement with GCC and MacArthur. Under the agreement, the county will pay $400,000, and an additional $400,000 will be paid by the state of California as compensation for the attorneys’ fees incurred by GCC and MacArthur.

MacArthur was pleased with the settlement on fees.

“We are very grateful for our Lord’s protection and providence throughout this past year,” MacArthur said in a statement.

“Our commitment to the Word of God and his church has never wavered. We have simply continued to stand firm, as we always have and always will. We put our trust in the Lord Jesus Christ who is the head of the church. Over the past year, our congregation has seen his hand of blessing in ways like never before, and the Lord’s promise has been realized: ‘I will build my church and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.’”

By Matthew Vadum

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