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Ex-Mayor Wins Appeal Over Church Lawsuit

June 27, 1991

A state appeals court has overturned a ruling that a former Glendale mayor acting as a private attorney was negligent for failing to properly defend the United Community Church of Glendale from multimillion-dollar lawsuits.

The three-member panel of the 2nd District Court of Appeal in Los Angeles last week overturned a $2.1-million summary judgment against Robert W. Garcin, head of the Burbank Airport board and twice mayor of Glendale.

The judgment was made in 1989 by Glendale Superior Court Judge Joseph R. Kalin after the congregation sued Garcin for malpractice.

Court documents indicate that Garcin had agreed to represent the church in 1984 but allowed the church to lapse into automatic default because he took no action to defend it for more than a year. Kalin said he granted the judgement against Garcin without a trial because "there is no defense" for Garcin's failure to protect the church.

The appellate ruling allows the case to be tried before the appeal court, said Dan L. Longo, a Los Angeles attorney representing Garcin.

Harry F. Scolinos, a Pasadena attorney representing the church, said an appeal will be filed.

Scolinos, however, said the action may now force the debt-ridden congregation to sell all or part of the church property at 333 E. Colorado St. A $1.2-million court judgment was awarded against the church in 1987 for unpaid loans to the Rev. William Steuart McBirnie, its former pastor and a nationally syndicated radio and television evangelist.

The church planned to pay the debt with money it expected to collect from Garcin's insurance company, but may now be unable to stave off collectors, Scolinos said.

Church directors are scheduled to meet today to determine a course of action.

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