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The New Iberia Buddhist Temple v. Sikang

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Third Circuit

November 7, 2018

THE NEW IBERIA BUDDHIST TEMPLE
v.
MARN SIKANG, ET AL.

          APPEAL FROM THE SIXTEENTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT PARISH OF IBERIA, NO. 125816 HONORABLE LEWIS H. PITMAN, JR., DISTRICT JUDGE.

          Roger P. Hamilton, Jr. Attorney at Law COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT: The New Iberia Buddhist Temple

          Rusty L. Messer Earl & Messer COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT: The New Iberia Buddhist Temple

          Vivian Veron Neumann Attorney at Law COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT-APPELLEE: Marn Sikang, Bountheung Chnakonsy, Bounlrau Thanyavong

          David Y. Lamm Attorney at Law COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT-APPELLEE: Marn Sikang, Bountheung Chnakonsy, Bounlrau Thanyavong

          Holden Hoggatt, Hoggatt Law Group, APLC COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT-APPELLEE:, Marn Sikang, Bountheung Chnakonsy, Bounlrau Thanyavong

          Court composed of John D. Saunders, Marc T. Amy, and Elizabeth A. Pickett, Judges.

          ELIZABETH A. PICKETT JUDGE.

         The appellant, The New Iberia Buddhist Temple (the Temple), appeals a judgment of the trial court appointing a receiver to liquidate the assets of the Temple and dissolving the non-profit corporation.

         FACTS

         On February 26, 2015, the Temple initiated this litigation by filing a Petition for a Temporary Restraining Order against former members of the board of directors of the Temple, Marn Sikang, Bountheng Chankensy, and Bounlrau Thanyavong. The petition alleged that a new board of directors had been elected, and these former directors had attempted to evict the current attendees of the Temple by placing a notice of eviction on the door of the Temple. The petition asked that the former directors be prohibited from being on the property of the Temple. The trial court granted the temporary restraining order and set a hearing for a preliminary injunction on March 31, 2015.

         At the March 31, 2015 hearing, the parties stipulated that the defendants would be permitted to worship at the Temple provided they do not disrupt the services. Further, the parties agreed by the terms of the consent judgment to submit the issues in this dispute to "binding mediation." Finally, the parties agreed that neither the monk nor any other party would alienate any of the assets of the Temple pending the outcome of the mediation. A consent judgment with these terms was signed by the trial court on May 18, 2015.

         While mediation was pending, the Temple filed a Rule for Contempt and/or Motion to Authorize the Board of Directors to Access the Bank Account and Other Legal Documents on July 8, 2016. The Temple alleges that the defendants changed the board of directors information with the Secretary of State and changed the access of the Temple's bank account so only the defendants had access. In response to the Rule for Contempt, the defendants filed a Memorandum in Opposition to Plaintiffs' Contempt Rule, Petition for Declaratory Relief, and for Hearing on Injunctive & Other Relief, wherein they asserted that the election by which the officers purporting to represent the Temple were chosen was not held in compliance with the Temple's articles of incorporation. Thus, they argue that they remain the duly elected officers of the Temple pending a valid election, and their actions in securing the bank account and reporting the members of the board of directors to the Secretary of State were valid exercises of their authority. They also claim that the monk hired by the Temple sowed division among the members before he fled to his home in Laos.

         On March 14, 2017, the trial court, in response to the complaints by the defendants that they could not freely enter the Temple, ordered all members of the Temple, including the defendants, to be allowed free access to the Temple for worship. The transcript of that hearing reflects that the mediation was unsuccessful, and that the previous consent judgment was no longer in ...


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