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Big Cats of Serenity Springs was a Colorado-based non-profit that provided housing, food, and veterinary care for exotic animals. The facility was regulated by the United States Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). Three APHIS inspectors accompanied by sheriff’s deputies broke into the Big Cats facility without its permission to perform an unannounced inspection of two tiger cubs. But at the time the inspectors entered the facility, the cubs were at a veterinarian’s office receiving treatment, just as Big Cats had promised the APHIS inspectors the previous day. Big Cats and its directors sued the APHIS inspectors for the unauthorized entry pursuant to "Bivens v. Six Unknown Narcotics Agents," (403 U.S. 388 (1971)) and 42 U.S.C. 1983, asserting the entry was an illegal search under the Fourth Amendment. The district court denied the APHIS inspectors’ motion to dismiss the complaint and they filed an interlocutory appeal challenging the court’s failure to grant qualified immunity. The Tenth Circuit affirmed in part and reversed in part. Big Cats’ complaint stated a claim for relief under "Bivens." No APHIS inspector would reasonably have believed unauthorized forcible entry of the Big Cats facility was permissible, and therefore Big Cats and its directors could have a claim for violation of their Fourth Amendment right to be free from an unreasonable search. But the Court reversed on Big Cats’ civil rights claim because the federal inspectors were not liable under section 1983 in the circumstances here. View "Big Cats of Serenity Springs v. Vilsack" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, The Bishop of the Protestant Episcopal Diocese in New Hampshire, A Corporation Sole, d/b/a St. George’s Episcopal Church (Church), appealed a superior court order denying its summary judgment motion and granting that of the defendant, Town of Durham (Town), based upon a finding that 24 spaces in the Church’s parking lot that are leased to University of New Hampshire (UNH) students were taxable. Until 2013, the Church received a religious tax exemption under RSA 72:23, III for its entire parking lot. In early 2013, the Town learned that the Church leased spaces to UNH students. At that time, the Town believed students leased 30 of the 37 parking spaces. Accordingly, after determining that the leased parking spaces were no longer exempt from taxation, the Town issued the Church a tax bill. After review of the Church’s arguments on appeal, the New Hampshire Supreme Court concluded that the Church did not meet its burden of demonstrating that the leased spaces were exempt. The Court affirmed the superior court order. View "Bishop of the Protestant Episcopal Diocese in New Hampshire v. Town of Durham" on Justia Law

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In this discretionary appeal, the issue presented for the Supreme Court's review was a narrow issue of whether Law Enforcement Health Benefits, Inc. (“LEHB”), a nonprofit corporation that administered health and welfare benefits to Philadelphia police officers as part of the union’s collective bargaining agreement, was authorized under the Pennsylvania Nonprofit Corporation Law (“NCL”), as well as its Articles of Incorporation, to spend some of its corporate funds to pay for a postcard sent to its members endorsing a candidate in a union election. The Supreme Court found that nothing in the NCL nor the corporation’s Articles prohibited the action at issue and that LEHB’s action was sufficiently related to its corporate purpose to be permissible. Accordingly, the Court reversed the decision of the Commonwealth Court which held otherwise, and reinstated the trial court’s order dismissing the declaratory judgment action against LEHB. View "Zampogna v. Law Enforcement Health Benefits, Inc." on Justia Law

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Appellant Michael R. Veon, a twenty-two-year member and eventual Minority Whip of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, was entitled to $20,000 annually to cover business expenses associated with maintenance of a district office, as well as $4,000 for postage. Pursuant to House Democratic Caucus (“Caucus”) procedures, Veon could seek additional funds from Caucus leadership if he exhausted his $20,000 allocation, and it was not uncommon for Caucus members to do so. In 1991, Veon formed the Beaver Initiative for Growth (“BIG”), a non-profit corporation. BIG received all of its funding from public sources, primarily through the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development (“DCED”). Veon's Beaver County district office initially shared space with BIG, but opened two more district offices, for which the rent easily exceeded his caucus allotment. Veon was criminally charged with various offenses relating to BIG paying the district offices' rents. After some charges were withdrawn, Veon went to trial on nineteen counts. In the portion of the jury charge that was relevant to Veon’s appeal to the Supreme Court, the trial court defined the pecuniary requirement in the conflict of interest statute. The statute prohibited public officials from leveraging the authority of their offices for “private pecuniary benefit;” at issue here was whether or not that benefit extended to what the trial court in this case referred to as “intangible political gain.” In addition, another issue before the Supreme Court was whether the Commonwealth could receive restitution following prosecution of a public official for a crime involving unlawful diversion of public resources. The Court concluded the trial court committed prejudicial error in its jury charge regarding conflict of interest, and that it erred in awarding restitution to the DCED. Veon's judgment of sentence was vacated, the matter remanded for a new trial on conflict of interest, and for other proceedings. View "Pennsylvania v. Veon" on Justia Law

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An employee of a nonprofit serving disabled adult clients used her position to embezzle more than half a million dollars held by the nonprofit for its clients. After the embezzlement was discovered, Travelers Casualty & Surety Company, the nonprofit's insurance company, made the nonprofit whole. Travelers then sought contribution from the bank in federal court. By submitting certified questions of Washington law, that court has asked the Washington Supreme Court to decide, among other things, whether a nonpayee's signature on the back of a check was an indorsement. Furthermore, the Court was also asked whether claims based on unauthorized indorsements that are not discovered and reported to a bank within one year of being made available to the customer are time barred. The Supreme Court answered yes to both questions. View "Travelers Cas. & Sur. Co. v. Wash. Trust Bank" on Justia Law

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After two separate trials, the family court entered decrees finding dependency as to Respondent’s sons, King and Saint, determining that the children were actually suffering or likely to suffer physical and/or emotional harm and that it was in the children’s best interest to be placed out-of-home. Both children were committed to the care, custody, and control of the Department of Children, Youth, and Families. Respondent appealed. The Supreme Court affirmed the decrees of the family court, holding that the trial justice’s findings of dependency as to both King and Saint were supported by clear and convincing evidence. View "In re King J." on Justia Law

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Detroit Medical Center consists of several not-for-profit hospitals incorporated under Michigan law. The Center overpaid its taxes, entitling it to a refund plus interest. Under the Internal Revenue Code, “corporations” receive lower interest rates on such refunds (the federal short-term interest rate plus as little as 0.5%) than other taxpayers (the federal short-term interest rate plus 3%), 26 U.S.C. 6621(a)(1). The IRS rejected the Center’s claim that, as a not-for-profit corporation, it should not be treated as a corporation and should be eligible for the higher interest rate, increasing its refund by $9.1 million. The district court and Sixth Circuit affirmed, reasoning that a nonprofit entity incorporated under state law amounts to a corporation, and that the Code contains no indication to the contrary. View "United States v. Detroit Medical Center" on Justia Law

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Respondent Loreto Publications, Inc. appealed a circuit court order ruling that Loreto failed to establish that it was statutorily exempt from filing annual reports with the New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office, and requiring it to file reports for fiscal years 2010 to 2014. Loreto was a nonprofit corporation organized under RSA chapter 292. Its stated purpose was “the promotion, and propagation of the Roman Catholic religion through the publication, sale, or distribution of books, magazines, pamphlets or [tracts], and the use of any other communications media, whether electronic, audio, visual, printed, written or oral.” In or around 2003, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) granted Loreto a tax exemption under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. In 2008, the Charitable Trust Unit of the New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office learned that Loreto was operating as a 501(c)(3) tax exempt organization in New Hampshire and advised Loreto that New Hampshire law required it to register with and submit annual reports. In 2009, Loreto registered with the Charitable Trust Unit but did not file an annual report for fiscal year 2010 or any subsequent fiscal year. In 2013, Loreto’s 501(c)(3) status was “automatically revoked [by the IRS] for its failure to file a Form 990-series return or notice for three consecutive years.” The Interim Director of Charitable Trusts sought an order in the circuit court requiring Loreto to file its delinquent reports. Loreto moved to dismiss, arguing that “[s]ince [it] . . . is NOT a Charitable Trust, but rather a church/religious organization, [the] court lacks subject matter jurisdiction under [RSA 547:3, II(a)] to hear this matter.” The court denied the motion. Finding no reversible error in that denial, the New Hampshire Supreme Court affirmed. View "Attorney General, Director of Charitable Trusts v. Loreto Publications, Inc." on Justia Law

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Petitioner Thomas Todd, a Massachusetts resident, is a member of the New Hampshire Chapter of the Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC). He was a member of the AMC’s paddling committee since 1989 and was the committee’s co-chair in 2009 and 2010. Sally Leonard was also a member of the AMC’s paddling committee. In January 2014, Leonard filed a stalking petition against Todd, alleging Todd "hacked" her computer and broke her vehicle’s window after she had voiced her opinion at an AMC meeting that Todd should not be allowed to participate in a paddling committee event "due to his history of aggressive behavior toward females." Todd was insured under a homeowner’s insurance policy and an umbrella liability policy issued to him by Vermont Mutual Insurance Company. After the stalking petition was filed, Todd notified Vermont Mutual of the action and requested that it provide a defense under one or both of the policies. Vermont Mutual declined. The AMC was insured by Hanover Mutual Insurance Company under an employment practices liability (EPL) policy and a nonprofit directors, officers and organizations liability (D & O) policy. Todd informed the AMC of the stalking petition and requested that it notify Hanover to provide him with a defense. Hanover declined too. In March 2014, the Circuit Court ultimately found that Leonard “failed to sustain [her] burden of proof,” and, therefore, the court did not issue a restraining order against Todd. Todd incurred approximately $18,000 in attorney’s fees and costs in defending against the stalking petition. In June 2014, Todd filed this declaratory judgment proceeding, seeking a declaration that Vermont Mutual and Hanover owed a duty to defend him against the stalking petition and to reimburse him for the attorney’s fees and costs incurred in defending against the stalking petition. In addition, he sought attorney’s fees and costs for bringing the declaratory judgment proceeding. Todd appealed when cross-motions for summary judgment and summary judgment were granted favor of the insurance companies. Finding no reversible error, the Supreme Court affirmed the circuit court. View "Todd v. Vermont Mutual Insurance Co." on Justia Law

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Audra Woody attended a fireworks display at the Pembina County Fair in Hamilton, N.D. The Fair is a non-profit and tax-exempt corporation. The Fair offered a fireworks display to the public free of charge. Woody did not pay a fee for entry onto the fairgrounds or for any activity she engaged in at the fairgrounds. While looking for a seat to watch the fireworks, Woody stepped on a rotten board in the grandstand, fell to the ground and suffered personal injuries. Woody sued the Fair alleging she sustained serious bodily injury due to the Fair's negligence and maintenance of the grandstand. The parties stipulated to the facts of the case and the Fair moved to dismiss the complaint, alleging no genuine issues of material fact existed. The district court granted summary judgment for the Fair, finding it was protected from liability by recreational use immunity under N.D.C.C. ch. 53-08. Woody appealed. Woody argued the district court erred granting summary judgment because it misapplied North Dakota's recreational use immunity statutes. Woody alleged the Fair was not entitled to immunity because the Fair was engaged in commercial, rather than recreational purposes. Finding no reversible error in the trial district court's judgment, the Supreme Court affirmed. View "Woody v. Pembina County Annual Fair & Exhibition Association" on Justia Law