Justia Non-Profit Corporations Opinion Summaries

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In this case, the plaintiff, Joseph Gazal, donated over $1 million to purchase a car and a home for a destitute family. He was inspired to make this donation after hearing a homily delivered by defendant Carlos Echeverry, a deacon at his church. Gazal brought a lawsuit against Echeverry and his wife, Jessica Echeverry, as well as SOFESA, Inc., a nonprofit founded and led by Jessica Echeverry. Gazal claimed he was deceived into believing the car and house would be purchased for and titled to the destitute family, when in fact they were bought and titled to SOFESA.The defendants filed a special motion to strike the complaint under the anti-SLAPP (strategic lawsuit against public participation) statute, asserting that the homily and following conversations were protected speech. The trial court denied the motion, finding that the complaint did not rest on protected speech, but rather on private conduct and speech not directed at a wide public audience. Additionally, the court found that the causes of action arose from further communications that took place weeks after the homily.On appeal, the Court of Appeal of the State of California Second Appellate District Division Eight affirmed the trial court's decision. The court held that while the homily could be considered protected speech, the plaintiff's claims did not arise from the homily but rather from the alleged misconduct that occurred after its delivery. The court also found that the private discussions following the homily did not qualify for anti-SLAPP protection as they did not contribute to a public conversation on the issue of homelessness. Furthermore, the court denied a motion for sanctions filed by the plaintiff. View "Gazal v. Echeverry" on Justia Law

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This case involves Alliance Housing Incorporated and North Penn Supportive Housing LLC, collectively known as Alliance, Minnesota nonprofits operating to create, own, and operate affordable housing for low and very low-income people. Alliance owns several properties in Minneapolis, which are used exclusively as private residences for tenants whose incomes are 30–50 percent of the area median income. Alliance provides some supplies and cleaning services to various units but does not occupy the properties. In late 2018, Alliance applied for tax exemption for all its properties in assessment year 2020. The Minneapolis City Assessor denied the applications. Alliance then filed a property tax petition for the assessment year 2020, payable in 2021, claiming that its properties were tax-exempt. The tax court concluded that the properties owned by Alliance were exempt from property taxes.The State of Minnesota in Supreme Court held that for purposes of qualifying for tax exemption under Article X, Section 1, of the Minnesota Constitution, an institution of purely public charity with a purpose of providing housing for low-income individuals uses its real property in furtherance of its charitable purpose when it leases its property to its intended beneficiaries for personal residence. The court found that when the very purpose of an Institution of Purely Public Charity (IPPC) is to own and operate real property in a charitable manner for private residence, the exclusive residential occupancy of the property by the clients of the IPPC does not defeat the constitutional requirement that property be used to further a charitable purpose. Therefore, the tax court did not err in finding that Alliance’s properties are used for the tax-exempt purpose of providing affordable housing to low-income tenants. The decision of the tax court granting property tax exemptions to Alliance’s properties was affirmed. View "Alliance Housing Incorporated vs. County of Hennepin" on Justia Law

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The case before the Supreme Court of North Carolina involved a dispute between The Society for the Historical Preservation of the Twentysixth North Carolina Troops, Inc. (plaintiff) and the City of Asheville (defendant). The controversy centered around a monument dedicated to Zebulon Vance, a former North Carolina Governor and Confederate Colonel. The plaintiff, a nonprofit historical preservation organization, raised funds to restore the monument and entered into a donation agreement with the City, whereby the monument was restored and then donated to the City. However, the City later decided to remove the monument, citing it as a public safety threat due to vandalism and threats of toppling.In response, the plaintiff filed a complaint against the City, alleging that the City breached the 2015 donation agreement and seeking a temporary restraining order, preliminary injunction, and a declaratory judgment. The plaintiff argued that both parties had entered into a contract with the intent to preserve the monument in perpetuity. The City filed a motion to dismiss the plaintiff’s complaint for lack of standing and failure to state a claim. The trial court granted the City's motion, and this decision was affirmed by the Court of Appeals.When the case reached the Supreme Court of North Carolina, the court reversed the Court of Appeals’ determination that the plaintiff's breach of contract claim should be dismissed for lack of standing. However, the court noted that the plaintiff had abandoned the merits of its breach of contract claim in its appeal. As such, the court affirmed the dismissal of the plaintiff's claims for a temporary restraining order, preliminary injunction, and declaratory judgment for lack of standing. The court concluded that the plaintiff failed to assert any ground for which it has standing to contest the removal of the monument. View "Soc'y for the Hist. Pres. of the Twenty-sixth N.C. Troops, Inc. v. City of Asheville" on Justia Law

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The case pertains to a dispute between the Department of Finance of the City of New York and Brookdale Physicians' Dialysis Associates, Inc. over the revocation of a real property tax exemption. The property in question was owned by Samuel and Bertha Schulman Institute for Nursing and Rehabilitation Fund, Inc., a not-for-profit entity, and was leased to Brookdale Dialysis, a for-profit corporation. The Department of Finance retroactively revoked the property's tax-exempt status in 2013, citing the fact that the property had been leased to a for-profit entity.The Supreme Court initially annulled the Department's determination, arguing that it failed to consider whether Brookdale Dialysis' services were reasonably incidental to the exemption purpose. The Department of Finance reassessed the property for the 2014-2015 tax year and again revoked the exemption after finding that the income from the lease exceeded the expenses for the property. The decision to revoke the exemption was subsequently affirmed by the Appellate Division.However, the Court of Appeals reversed these decisions, holding that the property was not exempt under New York Real Property Tax Law § 420-a. The court noted that the law mandatorily exempts from taxation any real property owned by certain not-for-profit entities and used exclusively for beneficial purposes without financial gain. The law does not apply to property leased by a for-profit corporation. Therefore, the court concluded that the property in this case was not exempt under this law, and the Department of Finance's decision to revoke the exemption was justified. View "Matter of Brookdale Physicians' Dialysis Assoc., Inc. v Department of Fin. of the City of N.Y." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia recently ruled on a case involving the nonprofit organization Tax Analysts and Matthew Irby, the West Virginia State Tax Commissioner. Tax Analysts requested copies of field audit and audit training manuals from the West Virginia State Tax Department under the West Virginia Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). The Department denied the request, citing a statutory exemption protecting certain tax-related documents. Tax Analysts then filed a declaratory judgment action seeking to prevent the Department from withholding the requested documents.The Circuit Court of Kanawha County ruled in favor of the Department and dismissed the case, accepting the Department's argument that the documents were statutorily protected by the asserted FOIA disclosure exemption. However, the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia reversed this decision, concluding that the circuit court erred by not requiring the Department to present detailed justifications, known as a Vaughn index and an affidavit, as to why each document or part of it was exempt from disclosure under the FOIA.The court remanded the case with instructions for the circuit court to require the Department to file a Vaughn index and an affidavit explaining why disclosure of the documents would be harmful and why they should be exempt. The court concluded that the Department had not met its burden of showing the express applicability of the claimed exemption to the material requested. View "Tax Analysts v. Irby" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court of Wisconsin was asked to review a decision by the state's Labor and Industry Review Commission (LIRC) and determine whether Catholic Charities Bureau, Inc. (CCB) and its four sub-entities were operated primarily for religious purposes, and thus exempt from making contributions to Wisconsin's unemployment insurance system. The Court decided that in determining whether an organization is "operated primarily for religious purposes" according to Wisconsin Statute § 108.02(15)(h)2, both the motivations and activities of the organization must be examined.Reviewing the facts of the case, the court determined that while CCB and its sub-entities professed to have a religious motivation, their activities were primarily charitable and secular. The services provided by the sub-entities, which included job training, placement, and coaching, along with services related to daily living, could be provided by organizations of either religious or secular motivations, and thus were not "primarily" religious in nature.The court also rejected CCB's argument that this interpretation of the statute violated the First Amendment, as it did not interfere with the church's internal governance nor examine religious dogma. Instead, it was a neutral and secular inquiry based on objective criteria. Therefore, the court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals. View "Catholic Charities Bureau, Inc. v. State of Wisconsin Labor and Industry Review Commission" on Justia Law

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The case involves Purpose Built Families Foundation, a Florida nonprofit that received federal grants from the Department of Veterans Affairs to serve veterans and their families. In 2022, the Department notified the Foundation that activities and payments under five grants would be terminated or withheld due to "major fiscal mismanagement activities". The Foundation sued the Secretary of Veterans Affairs under the Administrative Procedure Act and received a temporary restraining order. Subsequently, the Department withdrew the challenged notices and the Secretary moved to dismiss the action as moot. The district court granted the motion.The United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit affirmed the decision of the district court. The court held that the case was moot, as the Department's withdrawal of the notices meant the Foundation's claims could not provide meaningful relief. It also ruled that neither the voluntary-cessation nor the capable-of-repetition-yet-evading-review exceptions to mootness applied. The court stated that the Department's subsequent actions, including a more robust process and new termination notices, were materially different from the original notices. Therefore, a lawsuit challenging the new termination notices would involve materially different allegations and answers. The court concluded that the Foundation would have ample opportunity for judicial review of the legality of the new terminations, once the administrative process was completed. View "Purpose Built Families Foundation, Inc. v. USA" on Justia Law

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The United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit reviewed a decision of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) regarding unfair labor practices alleged against New Concepts for Living, Inc. New Concepts sought review of an NLRB order determining that it engaged in unfair labor practices by pushing to decertify its employees' union. The NLRB affirmed the administrative law judge's dismissal of three charges against New Concepts but reversed his dismissal of five others.New Concepts, a nonprofit corporation providing services for people with disabilities, had been in a stalemate with its employees' union after the most recent collective bargaining agreement expired. Due to the union's inactivity, many employees expressed dissatisfaction and began a decertification movement. During this period, New Concepts suspended bargaining and issued memorandums to its employees about their right to resign from the union and stop the deduction of union dues. The NLRB found that these actions, as well as New Concepts' conduct during collective bargaining negotiations and a poll to assess union support, constituted unfair labor practices.The Court of Appeals disagreed, concluding that the NLRB's determinations were not supported by substantial evidence. The court found that New Concepts had both contractual and extracontractual bases for distributing the memorandums, did not unlawfully track employee responses, and provided adequate assurances against reprisals. Additionally, the court determined that New Concepts did not engage in bad faith bargaining and that its poll and subsequent withdrawal of recognition from the union were lawful. The court thus granted New Concepts' petition for review and denied the NLRB's cross-application for enforcement. View "New Concepts for Living Inc v. NLRB" on Justia Law

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The case involves the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, a nonprofit organization that sought to unseal court filings from federal criminal investigations. The District Court in Minnesota dismissed the application for lack of jurisdiction, and the case was appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit.The Reporters Committee's application aimed to unseal electronic-surveillance filings, which were required to be filed under seal by a local rule. The District Court believed the request was too broad since the majority of the materials requested become unsealed after six months. The court suggested negotiations with the United States Attorney’s Office to reach a solution.The Reporters Committee subsequently filed an amended application, seeking an order directing the clerk of the court to presumptively unseal warrants and related documents after 180 days and to begin docketing the government’s applications for electronic surveillance regardless of whether a judge granted them. The Committee claimed these duties arose under the First Amendment and the common-law right of access to public records and documents.The District Court dismissed the application, concluding that the Committee lacked standing because all it had was a “generalized, abstract interest” in unsealing the records. This decision was affirmed by the Appeals Court, which held that the Committee failed to establish it suffered a “concrete” and “particularized” injury. It was also noted that the Committee did not sue anyone who could provide the relief it sought, hence there was a lack of adversity necessary for federal court adjudication. View "Reporters Comm. for Freedom of the Press v. United States" on Justia Law

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A Vermont-based non-profit organization and an LLC challenged a superior court's dismissal of their complaint over a grant they did not receive. The plaintiffs, Housing Our Seniors in Vermont Inc. and Lakemont Retirement Community LLC, argued that the grant provided by the Newport Development Fund Grant Committee to another organization was wrongly awarded. The plaintiffs also alleged a conflict of interest in the committee.However, the Vermont Supreme Court upheld the lower court's decision, reasoning that the plaintiffs lacked standing to challenge the grant award. The court clarified that the plaintiffs had no legal right to receive the grant or to have any specific procedure in the allocation of the grant. The court also dismissed the plaintiffs' argument of specific rules governing the grant process asserting that the grant process was discretionary, and the eligibility criteria did not guarantee any particular process.Consequently, the court affirmed the superior court's dismissal for lack of standing, reinforcing that a legal entitlement or right is essential to establish an injury-in-fact for standing. View "Housing Our Seniors in Vermont Inc. v. Agency of Commerce & Community Development" on Justia Law