Friday, April 27, 2018

District Court Again Dismisses Suit Over Board Positions On Sikh Dharma Entities

In Puri v. Khalsa, (D OR, April 26, 2018), an Oregon federal district court dismissed on ministerial exception and ecclesiastical abstention grounds a suit originally filed in 2010 growing out of disputes following the death of Yogi Bhajan, an important Sikh spiritual leader in the United States.  The widow and three children of Yogi Bhajan claim that they are entitled to board positions in two nonprofit Sikh Dharma entities. In a 2017 decision, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, reviewing  the trial court's dismissal solely on the basis of the pleadings, held that the suit should not have been dismissed on ministerial exception or ecclesiastical abstention grounds. (See prior posting.)  In yesterday's decision, however, the district court, ruling on a summary judgment motion, held that information outside the pleadings now before the court leads to the conclusion that defendants' motion for summary judgment should be granted.