Funeral protesters owe $11M in damages
Baltimore ? A grieving father won a nearly $11 million verdict Wednesday against a Topeka, Kan., church that pickets military funerals out of a belief that the war in Iraq is a punishment for the nation’s tolerance of homosexuality.
Albert Snyder of York, Pa., sued the Westboro Baptist Church for unspecified damages after members demonstrated at the March 2006 funeral of his son, Marine Lance Cpl. Matthew Snyder, who was killed in Iraq.
The federal jury first awarded $2.9 million in compensatory damages. It returned in the afternoon with its decision to award $6 million in punitive damages for invasion of privacy and $2 million for causing emotional distress.
Snyder’s attorney, Craig Trebilcock, had urged jurors to determine an amount “that says don’t do this in Maryland again. Do not bring your circus of hate to Maryland again.”
The defense said it planned to appeal, and one of the church’s leaders, Shirley Phelps-Roper, said the members would continue to picket military funerals.
“Absolutely; don’t you understand this was an act in futility?” Phelps-Roper said.