LOCAL : Justices Reject Sunland Clergy Suit

<i> From Times staff and wire service reports </i>

The U.S. Supreme Court refused to revive a “clergy malpractice” lawsuit stemming from the 1979 suicide of a young man counseled by pastors of his church in Sunland.

The justices, without comment today, left intact a California Supreme Court decision that threw out the suit against the Grace Community Church of the Valley.

Kenneth Nally, 24, of Tujunga committed suicide April 1, 1979, by shooting himself. His parents, Walter and Maria Nally, subsequently sued Grace Community Church, the largest Protestant church in Los Angeles County, and four church pastors. The wrongful-death suit alleged that the pastors had been negligent and had acted outrageously in failing to prevent the suicide.

A state trial judge dismissed the suit, but a state appeals court reinstated it in a ruling that sent shock waves through the legal profession and the religious community. But the California Supreme Court killed the suit last Nov. 23.