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Man Sues Mormon Church
Over Baptism Back Injuries

BY JASON BERGREEN                                                                             ©2010 Religion News Service

A Las Vegas man is suing The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for medical expenses after he injured his back in 2007 performing baptisms for the dead.
In a civil suit filed in 3rd District Court on August 25, Daniel Dastrup claims he suffered a severe herniated disk in his lumbar spine after performing about 200 proxy baptisms on August 25, 2007.
The then 25-year-old claims some of the young men and women he completely immersed in water in the name of the dead weighed as much as 250 pounds.
When he asked to be relieved, an officiator at the LDS temple in Raleigh, North Carolina, where the baptisms were performed, told Dastrup to continue, the civil suit states. Another man who asked the officiator twice to take over for Dastrup was also told no.
The day after finishing the numerous baptisms, Dastrup said he suffered so much pain he could not sit up. He later learned of the herniated disk and had to undergo two spinal surgeries, according to the suit.
Dastrup claims the church breached its duty by "not warning the plaintiffs that the repetitive motion required for performing baptisms for the dead could cause serious damage to a person's back and by not allowing Dastrup to stop and be relieved when he and his replacement requested on multiple occasions that they be switched out."
Dastrup, who also listed his wife as a plaintiff in the case, claims the injury has affected his relationship with her, and the pain has forced him to quit law school and change his lifestyle.
He is suing the Corporation of the Presiding Bishop of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for, among other things, medical expenses, future loss of earning capacity and loss of household services.
"Honestly, we're puzzled by this," church spokesman Scott Trotter said in a statement provided to The Associated Press. "We have been unable to validate Mr. Dastrup's claims, but since he is representing himself in this matter, we will need to respond to this directly through the courts."

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