Justia Non-Profit Corporations Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in California Courts of Appeal
Wang v. Fang
Plaintiffs Zhi An Wang, Yu Liu, Bo Xu, Yanhong Sun, Yong Li, Tao Chen, Lina Tao, Bin Qu, Qingjiang Li, Tao Jing, Xingchuan Wu, Jun Shi, Ke Zhang, Zhuo Xiao, and Yugang Xie appealed a trial court order granting defendants Shimin Fang and his spouse, Juhua Liu's motion to dismiss plaintiffs’ complaint on the grounds of forum non conveniens (motion). Fang and Juhua Liu resided in San Diego County. Plaintiffs all resided in the People’s Republic of China. Fang created a website in China that published articles and other content regarding purported examples of fraud, corruption, and bureaucratic inefficiency affecting the scientific and academic communities in China. In about 2005, Fang publicly criticized a urologist who claimed to have a developed a treatment for a rare disease. A year later, the urologist sued Fang, and a Chinese court ruled in the urologist's favor. In 2010, Fang was attacked by individuals purportedly hired by the urologist as revenge for his public criticism of the doctor. As a result of the attack, Fang established a business in China called “Personal Safety Foundation for Scientific Anti-Fraud Individuals” (Foundation). Fang used the Foundation’s website among other methods to obtain donations. Fang represented that donated funds “would be used solely for the protection of the personal safety of individuals engaged in anti-fraud activities,” and that any such awards could be used by recipients for the “purpose of protecting their personal safety.” As an inducement to obtain donations, Fang publicly represented that no monies collected to fund the Foundation would be used to pay for his personal living expenses. For approximately eight years, the Foundation collected donations from “several thousand donors” including plaintiffs. The complaint alleged defendants misused Foundation funds “for personal transactions” in contravention of the stated mission and purpose of the Foundation. Defendants in their motion argued the complaint should have been dismissed on the ground of inconvenient forum because the matter should be litigated in China, where all plaintiffs resided and where the Foundation was located. The Court of Appeal concluded substantial evidence supported the trial court’s finding that China was a suitable forum. However, the California Court agreed with plaintiffs that in the interest of justice, the case should have been stayed and not dismissed, with the U.S. court to retain jurisdiction over the matter pending the outcome of the case in China. View "Wang v. Fang" on Justia Law
Brown v. Pacifica Foundation, Inc.
Pacifica, a California non-profit corporation, owns and operates public radio stations, including KPFK in Los Angeles. Brown was elected to be a “Delegate” of KPFK and subsequently to a position on Pacifica’s National Board of Directors. Pacifica notified Brown she was ineligible for those positions because she was a Los Angeles Small Business Commissioner. Pacifica bylaws bar individuals from serving in board positions while they hold any public office. Claiming her removal was instigated by a rival faction of Pacifica’s National Board, Brown and others with similar complaints sought declaratory and injunctive relief. The trial court granted the plaintiffs a preliminary injunction, finding that Brown’s position on the Commission is not a public office. The court of appeal reversed. The term “public office” has more than one legal definition. The common law definition has two elements: a fixed and permanent tenure of office in which incumbents succeed one another and delegation to the officer of some portion of the sovereign functions of government, either legislative, executive, or judicial. The Los Angeles Board of Supervisors has delegated tasks to the Commission that it would otherwise perform itself; the Commission clearly serves a function that aids the Board. The fact that a body serves an advisory function does not preclude it from being a public office. View "Brown v. Pacifica Foundation, Inc." on Justia Law
Nat. Grange of the Order etc. v. California Guild
In this declaratory relief action, the trial court granted summary judgment to the plaintiff, The National Grange of the Order of Patrons of Husbandry (the National Grange), declaring that property at issue in the underlying dispute belonged to the California State Grange when the National Grange revoked the California State Grange’s charter in 2013 belonged to a newly chartered California State Grange. At the annual convention of the National Grange in November 2010, an amendment to the National Grange’s by-laws was proposed to expand the National Master’s power to suspend or revoke the charter of a State Grange, allowing the National Master to take that action in various situations, including when “the State Grange is working in violation of the law and usages of the Order.” The Master of the National Grange, Edward Luttrell, ordered an investigation of Robert McFarland, then Master/President of the California State Grange, based on allegations that McFarland had engaged in various instances of misconduct. McFarland ordered the consolidation of two subordinate granges. At some point, McFarland was suspended and an Overseer was supposed to act in his place. McFarland refused to acknowledge the Overseer’s authority to act in his stead. Put to a vote of the State Grange, the Executive Committee refused to honor Luttrell’s suspension of McFarland, arguing the State Grange was a California corporation governed by California state law, Luttrell did not have the power to suspend either McFarland or the State Grange. The California State Grange did not appeal the suspension of its charter within the organization as allowed by the by-laws of the National Grange. This declaratory relief action followed. The Court of Appeal was persuaded that the trial court did not err in granting summary judgment in favor of the National Grange in this declaratory relief case. View "Nat. Grange of the Order etc. v. California Guild" on Justia Law