Man injured while performing North Carolina submersion baptisms sues LDS church

A Las Vegas man injured while performing submersion baptisms in the name of the dead has sued The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for medical expenses.

The civil suit filed Wednesday in Salt Lake City's 3rd District Court claims Daniel Dastrup suffered severe back injuries, including a herniated disk, after performing about 200 baptisms at the LDS temple in Raleigh, N.C., on Aug. 25, 2007.

The lawsuit contends the church was negligent in failing to warn Dastrup that the repetitive nature of the proxy baptisms — bending, lifting and twisting — could result in physical injury.

"The church owed the plaintiffs a duty to exercise reasonable care to avoid injury to the plaintffs from the services they performed to the church," the lawsuit states.

Dastrup, who now lives in Las Vegas, claims he has suffered "a significant permanent injury that substantially changes his lifestyle," including damaging his relationship with his wife.

The lawsuit seeks unspecified monetary damages to compenstate Dastrup to cover medical costs and loss of earnings.

"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."

Dastrup, did not immediately return telephone or e-mail messages from The Associated Press on Thursday. Court papers indicate he filed the lawsuit on his own behalf and does not have an attorney.

In the documents, Dastrup claims the proxy baptism ceremonies required him to immerse young men and women under water. He claims some of them weighed up to 250 pounds.

The lawsuit alleges Dastrup, then 25, complained about his injuries but a LDS temple officiator ordered him to continue and refused to let another worker relieve him.

Dastrup later learned of the herniated disk and had to undergo two back surgeries. Dastrup contends that the severe pain he suffers makes him unable to work and has forced him to take an indefinite medical leave from law school.

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Information from: The Salt Lake Tribune, http://www.sltrib.com