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Lawsuits - Resolved

Hard v. Bentley 

Case #: 213-CV-00922
Court Level: Federal District (11th)
Date Filed: 16 December 2013
Date of Ruling: 29 July 2015


  • SPLC (Southern Poverty Law Center) filed a federal lawsuit to: (1) overturn the 1998 AL law and the 2005 AL constitutional amendment which ban same-gender civil marriage; (2) issue a revised Death Certificate for Charles Fancher showing Paul Hard as the surviving spouse, based on their 2011 MA marriage; and (3) disburse the proceeds of a wrongful death suit to Paul Hard.
  • 20 March 2014, Ms. Pat Fancher, mother of Charles Fancher, asked to intervene because (a) she opposes same-gender civil marriage; and (b) she wants to remain her deceased son’s next of kin and receive all the wrongful death proceeds of his estate.
  • 21 October 2014, the plaintiff filed his Reply in support of summary judgment (and in opposition to summary judgment for defendant), as well as an Affidavit in Support of the Reply. The affidavit includes an attached transcript of the plaintiffs' attorney in the DeBoer trial challenging designation of Sherrif Girgis as an expert witness.
  • 29 October 2014, the state defendants filed their Sur-Reply in support of summary judgment in their favor (and in opposition to summary judgment for the plaintiff), as did Defendant-Intervenor Pat Fancher.
  • 21 November 2014, Paul Hard received a letter from the Social Security Administration saying they won't pay his husband's death benefit because, "you are not Charles David Fancher's widower." Real people, Real impact, Real pain. Our thoughts are with Mr. Hard. This letter refers to a small benefit, Paul wants to be clear that the issue is not the money, it is being told that Charles and he were not husbands.
  • 2 December 2014, One year later, suit over marriage ban still pending - By Brian Lyman, Montgomery Advertiser
  • 16 December 2014, the plaintiff submitted his Second Supplemental Notice - Compilation of Post-Windsor Marriage Decisions
  • 6 February 2015, plaintiff Paul Hard's mother-in-law Pat Fancher, who is opposing Paul's claim for recognition of his marriage to her son David, asked the district court to rule on her motion for summary judgement.
  • 9 February 2015, Paul Hard received an amended death certificate from the state; the new certificate recognizes Paul as David's surviving spouse. Alabama recognizes SPLC client Paul Hard as surviving spouse on husband’s death certificate - Southern Poverty Law Center
  • 23 February 2015, Richard Lohr, as Administrator of David Fancher's estate, and the law firm that is his counsel of record, asked to intervene in the case for the limited purpose of paying the disputed wrongful death settlement funds into the Court so that the Court can take charge of disbursing the funds after it determines who is entitled to them.
  • 24 February 2015, the Court approved the motion to intervene for the limited purpose of putting the proceeds of the wrongful death suit in the care of the Court. It will be held in an account under the Court's control until further order.
  • 10 March 2015, Governor Bentley's motion to dismiss him as a defendant was granted and the case was stayed "until further order of this court, which further order in any event will not precede a definitive ruling from the United States Supreme Court" in the marriage cases. "Governor Bentley’s motion to dismiss is ... granted on the basis of his entitlement to sovereign immunity and because Plaintiff lacks Article III standing to sue the Governor." The remaining defendants are the Attorney General and, as Defendant-Intervenor, Pat Fancher. Richard Lohr, administrator of David's estate, also recently joined as an intervenor, but only for the limited purpose of depositing funds with the Court.
  • 30 June 2015, the plaintiff filed a Motion to lift the stay, enter summary judgment for plaintiff, and distribute funds to Plaintiff Paul Hard.
  • 14 July 2015, the defendants filed their Response to the plaintiffs’ Motion to Lift Stay, Enter Summary Judgment, and Distribute Funds.
  • 14 July 2015, the Court issued an Order on the pending motions: the Plaintiff's motion to lift stay and disburse funds was granted; the Parties' cross-motions for summary judgment were denied; the Attorney General's motion to dismiss based on mootness was granted.
    "Counsel for Plaintiff and for the Estate of David Fancher are DIRECTED to file a statement on or before July 20, 2015, advising the court how the Clerk of the Court should disburse the funds."
  • 15 July 2015, from Equality Case Files: Intervenor Pat Fancher is not giving up: Intervenor Pat Fancher's motion to set aside order of dismissal and renewed prayer for relief. "The issue is not whether same-sex marriage is legal in Alabama today. The issue is whether same-sex marriage was legal in Alabama on the day David Fancher died, because whatever legal relationship Paul Hard and David Fancher enjoyed, ended the day David Fancher died. If Alabama law did not recognize their relationship as a marriage on the day David Fancher died, then Paul Hard was not a spouse and is not a surviving spouse -- unless Obergefell is given retroactive effect."
  • 20 July 2015, the plaintiff filed his Statement Regarding the Disbursement of Funds.
  • 20 July 2015, the Court ordered the plaintiff to respond to Pat Fancher's motion to set aside the order of dismissal by July 20; the Attorney General may respond but is not required to do so.
  • 20 July 2015, the plaintiff filed his Response, his Opposition to Motion for Reconsideration.
  • 27 July 2015, Intervenor Pat Fancher filed a memo in further support of her motion for reconsideration.
  • 29 July 2015, an Order was issued denying Pat Fancher's July 15 motion to set aside the order of dismissal; the final Judgement in this case was issued; and, the Clerk of the Court was directed to disburse funds to the Southern Poverty Law Center's Client Trust Account in the amount of "$552,956.69, plus ninety percent of all interest earned to date that is due for distribution to Plaintiff Paul Hard." (the other 10% of interest is payable to court as a fee for handling the funds).