Judge dismisses St. Joseph Orphan Society lawsuit - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Judge dismisses St. Joseph Orphan Society lawsuit

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – A judge has dismissed a lawsuit over control of the St. Joseph Catholic Orphan Society, whose leadership has been contested for nearly two years.

Jefferson Circuit Judge Brian Edwards ruled Dec. 10 that the longtime trustees ousted in early 2013 chose not to attend a new vote on the society's bylaws in November of last year, and “this decision was made of their own volition.”

The lawsuit pitted a largely aging group of trustees – among them former residents of the Frankfort Avenue orphanage -- against a younger faction with corporate ties. The dispute even drew in Louisville Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz, who questioned whether the previous board was acting in the best interest of society, which may be best known for its popular summer fundraising picnic.

In his opinion, Edwards wrote that the group that seized control in 2013 broke society bylaws, showed “dispassionate disregard for the laudable service of longtime trustees” and used “highly aggressive” tactics to oust those board members.

At the same time, he noted that the trustees who were replaced still had an opportunity to attend a scheduled meeting at which a new vote was taken.

A decision whether to appeal the ruling hasn't been made, said William Walsh, attorney for the ousted board members.

“The contest was unequal from the start,” Walsh said. “They had resources that we don't have and that makes a big difference in litigation -- and that's just a fact.”

St. Joseph officials did not immediately return phone calls seeking comment.

Previous coverage:

Trustee remained on St. Joe board despite removal request

Archbishop drawn into St. Joe's legal battle

Embattled orphan society hires new director

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