Baltimore A federal judge in Baltimore has upheld the October jury verdict in the lawsuit brought against a Kansas-based fundamentalist church group for its anti-gay protest at the 2006 Maryland funeral of a Marine in Iraq.
However, on Monday the judge reduced by more than half the total amount of damages awarded to the plaintiff, Albert Snyder, father of Lance Cpl. Matthew Snyder.
The decision by U.S. District Judge Richard Bennett means the Topeka-based Westboro Baptist Church and three of its members must pay total compensatory and punitive damages of $5 million for emotional distress and invasion of privacy. The original jury award was $10.9 million.
Bennett cited Supreme Court precedent requiring the judge to weigh the nature of the harm suffered by Snyder against the financial resources of Westboro and its members to finance a large damage award.
The appeal by Westboro to overturn the verdict is still pending. Bennett must decide how much of a bond the church and its members will have to post while the appeal continues. Church members have argued that they should not be required to post a bond during the appeals process.
Westboro members believe U.S. deaths in Iraq are punishment for the nation's tolerance of homosexuality.