Charities in the Courtroom, Part 8: Universities

Recall the story of Virginia’s Sweet Briar College that we covered in 2015. Nestled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, this idyllic campus erupted into controversy when the President and Chair of the Board of Trustees rushed through a controversial vote to close down the venerable, all-women, institution after 100 years of operation. As recent events in the news have demonstrated, when a group of women Read More

Class Action Lawsuit Against PayPal Giving Fund

In 2016, overall charitable giving rose 1%, but online giving jumped 7.9%, and all indications are using technology to facilitate donations will continue to grow rapidly. Paypal’s online platform, Paypal Giving Fund, has aimed to “create a network of donors, businesses & charities so all can participate in helping charities raise “new, unrestricted funds.” This Fund is a nonprofit that “raises new funds through Read More

Charities in the Courtroom, Part 7: Yanking Money from Tight Fists

“You can’t get blood out of a stone.” Apparently, that idiom was “first recorded in Giovanni Torriano’s Second Alphabet, 1662: “To go about to fetch bloud out of stones, viz.  to attempt what is impossible.” Times have changed. There are much better lawyers in 2017.   Breach of Contract Lawsuit With a Marital Twist Like many other states, Illinois has had trouble recently making ends meet. For at least two years Read More

Charities in the Courtroom, Part 6: Audacious Embezzlement

So far in this series about litigation involving charities, we’ve focused on civil cases. Here, we remind you that nonprofits are also involved in criminal matters - if only peripherally - as the injured parties. Unfortunately, these two examples are just a drop in the bucket of the far-too-many examples of good organizations fleeced by bad people.   Garden Variety Fraud by Nonprofit’s Office Manager Mountain States Read More

Charities in the Courtroom, Part 5

The two lawsuits highlighted this month provide more examples of the wide range of issues that take charities into the courtroom. The first is a San Francisco nonprofit that was damaged by an eminent domain proceeding, this case makes new precedent in California; namely, that a nonprofit can sue for lost goodwill - just like the well-established rule in connection with for-profit businesses. The second litigation Read More

Charities in the Courtroom, Part 4: Who Can Sue the Board?

“There’s a surprisingly broad range of legal issues,” we noted in Charities in the Courtroom, Part 1, “that may bring a charity into the courtroom either as a plaintiff or as a defendant. These can include disputes among or against board members, issues arising in connection with memberships, contract or real estate problems, and negligence liability - just to name a few.” It’s an honor and privilege to serve on a Read More

Charities in the Courtroom, Part 3: Religious Conflict

There is no shortage of lawsuits involving religious organizations: congregations fighting among themselves, with other religious groups, or with outsiders. Here are two recent - and quite different - examples. The first is a garden-variety employment termination case, but with a twist: the fired pastor of Sixth Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Church of Pittsburgh sued not just the church-employer, but also eleven Read More

Universities Sued for Fiduciary Breaches of Retirement Plans

Prestigious universities around the nation are facing a new legal challenge related to how they administer employee retirement plans. In August 2016, a single law firm filed separate complaints against eight prominent educational institutions: Duke, Emory, Johns Hopkins, Vanderbilt, NYU, Yale, Penn, and MIT. The common allegations: These educational institutions have allegedly breached their fiduciary duties to Read More

Charities in the Courtroom: Part 2

In Charities in the Courtroom, Part 1, we explained that there’s a surprisingly broad range of legal issues that may bring a charity to the courthouse either as a plaintiff or as a defendant. These can include - for instance - disputes among or against board members, issues arising in connection with memberships, contract or real estate problems, and negligence liability. To illustrate the range of issues that may Read More