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Partner Joseph Milano’s Case Featured in New York Law Journal

Partner Joseph Milano, representing the Metropolitan New York Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (“Synod”), defended the Synod in a case against Eltingville Lutheran Church (“Eltingville”), one of their nearly 200 interdependent member churches. After a nearly two year ecclesiastic process, the Synod Council determined that Eltingville could no longer fulfill the purposes for which it was formed and took charge and control of Eltingville’s property pursuant to Church doctrine and polity and New York law.  Eltingville sought to have the New York State Supreme Court nullify the decision of the Synod Council and prohibit the Synod from imposing synodical administration at Eltingville. The Synod moved to dismiss Eltingville’s complaint, arguing that the Supreme Court lacked jurisdiction over this internal church dispute because the decision of the Synod Council was a nonjusticiable religious dispute.  The Supreme Court granted the Synod’s motion.  Eltingville appealed to the Appellate Division, Second Department, which affirmed the decision of the lower court, stating that the “First Amendment forbids civil courts from interfering in . . . religious disputes” and that by “uniting with a denominational  body, a local congregation consents to be bound by the ecclesiastical determinations of the denominational government, subject only to such appeals as” that denomination itself provides.


Mr. Milano represents many denominations and has successfully litigated numerous cases related to governance of religious organizations.

A link to the full article below: