Defense verdict ensures local benevolent organization remains in control.
A three-day trial in the Orphans Court of Philadelphia resulted in a defense verdict for a local Asian benevolent organization that sought to remain independent of a national organization. The national organization claimed that the local organization was merely a chapter of the national, and it purported to remove all of the locally elected officers and replace them with an executive board. It also sought to take control of the local organization's real estate, valued in the millions of dollars, and notified the tenants to pay all rents to its agent. The local organization maintained that it had been an independent organization since 1923; that the national had no such powers over it; and that its officers and property rights continued unabated. The trial consisted mostly of testimony from members of the local and national Asian communities and there was disputed factual testimony about whether and to what extent members took oaths and to whom; whether and why people attended national conventions; and whether the national bylaws were ever adopted or accepted by the local organization. The defense was successful in showing the court the long and independent existence of the local organization, and the lack of proof that it had ever agreed to subjugate its rights to self-control to the national organization on the key issues in this case.