WASHINGTON - The District of Columbia Court of Appeals today reversed the dismissal of a lawsuit brought by members of Alpha Kappa Alpha, the nation's oldest Black sorority, alleging financial impropriety by the group's leadership.
In early 2010, District of Columbia Superior Court trial judge, Natalia Combs Greene, tossed the case brought by 8 members of the sorority.
Greene found that the members failed to accuse the sorority and its leadership of taking actions prohibited by statute in its ultra vires claim; lacked standing because they weren’t suing on behalf of the whole membership; and lacked jurisdiction over individual officials who don’t live in Washington, among other reasons.
In an opinion released this morning, the appellate judges found that District of Columbia Superior Court trial judge, Natalia Combs Greene, erred in tossing the case in early 2010.
In 2009 eight members of the Chicago-based sorority sued the sorority and its then-president Barbara McKinzie in Washington. The sorority sisters questioned $375,000 McKinzie had received in one year as president of the group, saying the money had not been approved by members. They also alleged she bought designer clothing, jewelry and lingerie with sorority money.
The lawsuit claimed that members were not given an opportunity to discuss the expenditures during their biennial meeting in 2008. Finally, the members accused the sorority’s leadership of revoking their membership in retaliation for filing the suit.
A lawyer for the sorority members, Christian R. Eriksen, said his clients were pleased and “look forward to resolving this matter.”
Melody McDowell, spokeswoman for the sorority, said the group was reviewing the decision but would have no comment while the case is pending.
Dale Cooter, the group’s lawyer, said he was disappointed and that his clients maintain that they did nothing wrong.