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Newsletter > September 2013 > "Judge Disregards Jury’s Findings and Enters Judgment Against Kappa Alpha Order"
Judge Disregards Jury’s Findings and Enters Judgment Against Kappa Alpha Order
Daniel McCarthy, Manley Burke
As reported in the May issue of Fraternal Law, Kappa Alpha Order and other plaintiffs, including the Alumni Receivership Committee for the Omicron Chapter of Kappa Alpha Order, sued UT Texas Omicron, Inc., and other defendants, after the KAO’s former chapter at the University of Texas attempted to break away from the national organization and form a local independent fraternity chapter. A jury heard the case from April 29 through May 10, 2013.
Prior to the jury trial, the judge had granted the defendants’ partial motion for summary judgment, ordering that the plaintiffs take nothing on claims for recovery of damages for alleged breach of contract and tortious interference. Ultimately, eight separate questions were presented to the jury. The jury found in favor of plaintiffs and against defendants on all eight questions.
But after post-verdict motions, the judge disregarded the jury’s findings on two questions. The judge held that “a party cannot legally convert its own property or unjustly enrich itself.” Accordingly, the court ordered that Plaintiffs “take nothing on all claims for recovery of damages against Defendants.” The court further held that no enforceable trust existed to the chapter house property or the personal property contained therein, that all such personal property is owned by UT Texas Omicron, Inc., and that the plaintiffs “have no right, title or interest in or to the real property at issue, which such real property is owned by UT Texas Omicron Educational Corporation.”
Texas Omicron is currently a recognized student organization at the University of Texas. On its webpage, Sammy Roy, the chapter’s president, issued the following statement:
The legal conflict between Texas Omicron and the national office of Kappa Alpha has ended-with very favorable results for Texas Omicron. Most importantly, the Court ruled that our alumni housing corporation is the undisputed owner of our House at 2515 Leon. On Sunday, July 28th, the housing corporation held a meeting of Alumni, in which almost 900 of our alumni voted. An overwhelming 90% of our alumni voted to continue supporting Texas Omicron, making our future secure …. Our chapter and alumni worked tirelessly and we have prevailed. Any legal uncertainty has been laid to rest.
This case provides further evidence of the legal troubles that can arise when a chapter, its alumni members, and its house corporation attempt to break away from a national organization. The legal fight over chapter property, both real and personal, can be very expensive and uncertain.