Trinity Wall Street’s shareholder suit against Wal-Mart dismissed

A federal court has dismissed a lawsuit filed by the parish of Trinity Wall Street against the Wal-Mart Corporation, holding the parish could not compel the retailer to distribute proxy materials at its 22 April 2014 shareholder meeting prepared by the church that would have asked the corporation’s board to regulate the sale of products that offend “family values.”

On 11 April 2014 the complaint, Trinity v. Wal-Mart, 14-cv-00405 U.S. District Court, District of Delaware (Wilmington) was dismissed by the Court. It noted the Securities and Exchange Commission had already upheld Wal-Mart’s refusal to permit the distribution of the proxy statement, and further noted the parish was unlikely to be able to succeed in a claim that the SEC had made an error.

On 1 April 2014 the parish filed a stating the sale of products that were “dangerous to the public, may hurt the company’s reputation or offend family values”, such as the sale of ammunition clips that hold more than 10 rounds or music that endorses violence and sex harmed the company’s market value.

In a letter to his congregation at the time of the filing, the rector of Trinity Wall Street, the Rev. James Cooper wrote the parish sought to encourage corporations to act responsibly. “We recently initiated dialogue with certain companies toward assuring they balance the benefits of selling certain products against the risks these sales pose to the public and to the companies’ reputation and brand value. As responsible investors, not just socially responsible investors, we have done so in a manner which we believe is consistent with the business interests of each company.”

Dr. Cooper added it was “important to proceed given our commitment to our Parish’s precepts and our dedication to assuring that matters of importance to our congregation, and society, are raised and given the consideration they deserve.”

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