Monday, October 27, 2008

Brother Sues, Ain't Nothin' New

As we all know, Frank Haas of West Virginia is suing the Grand Lodge of West Virginia for a variety of reasons. I have heard many brothers who believe that Freemasons do not sue other Freemasons. Sadly, however, this is not the case.

I happened to find an article from the New York Times concerning a brother that had been expelled from the Fraternity. Robert Kopp was a twenty-three year member of Strict Observance Lodge #94 where he had served as Past Master. According to the article, Kopp had written an angry letter to the Grand Master, William Sutherland. It was recommended and approved that Kopp be expelled at the next Grand Lodge Communication which subsequently occurred.

Kopp sued the Grand Lodge for reinstatement but his "appeal" was denied. The Judge believed that it was not in the purview of his Court to review the decisions of Masonic tribunals. The Judge stated that "[w]hatever right he obtained, he obtained from the society itself." Kopp was not allowed to continue his suit.

What this article shows is that there really does exist the threat of suit by a brother against a Grand Lodge. The article in question was published in 1900, more than 108 years ago. The difference between this case and the Haas case is that unlike Kopp, Haas's suit will be allowed to continue. We must not be surprised that brothers suing Grand Lodges is new and will need to be planned for accordingly.


Tom Accuosti said...

Note that there is a diffy between suing another bro, and taking action against the GL itself.

We've had a case here in Conn in which an expelled bro has tried to sue, and which the courts kicked it out for exactly the same reasoning: it's a private society, and we have the ability to control our own membership.

Unknown said...

There is already case law for brothers suing for reinstatement in a Grand Lodge. A very prominent US Freemason and Attorney sued his Grand Lodge a couple years back and won in Supreme Court. I've never once seen this referenced in forums or online, so it obviously is not common knowledge in the online community of Masons, but it certainly is common knowledge amongst the Masonic leaders of major Orders and GLs in the USA. Not only did he get his dues card back, but his Masonic career exploded after that. He is currently serving as a Grand Officer in multiple bodies.

Millennial Freemason said...

Actually when a "brother" sues the Grand Lodge, it seems to be common practice to include the Grand Master as a party to the suit.

Do you have cite for this case? I am not being accusatory; I would just like to read this case.


The Palmetto Mason said...

I'd like to see that case cited as well. I have done some surface scratching research on this subject, but I have yet to come across a case where a civil court overruled a Lodge or Grand Lodge. Maybe I just don't know where to look.

Admiral Bung said...

FD2L said...

I'd like to see that case cited as well.

I am familiar with this case as well and recently heard the brother in question speak.

Most people don't realize that he fought with his Grand Lodge, and just see him as a rising star in the "Grand" politco scene.

-Bro Vick