Dore v. Wormley, No. 05 Civ. 2443(BSJ).

CourtUnited States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. Southern District of New York
Writing for the CourtBARBARA S. JONES
Citation690 F. Supp.2d 176
Decision Date08 February 2010
Docket NumberNo. 05 Civ. 2443(BSJ).
PartiesBrenda P. DORÉ, Plaintiff, v. Julian WORMLEY aka Albert Wormley, Zadikim Yisrael, Zechariah Ben Levy, Georgia White, Chul Hanani aka Chul Henschel aka Harold Jones, Defendants.
690 F.Supp.2d 176

Brenda P. DORÉ, Plaintiff,
v.
Julian WORMLEY aka Albert Wormley, Zadikim Yisrael, Zechariah Ben Levy, Georgia White, Chul Hanani aka Chul Henschel aka Harold Jones, Defendants.

No. 05 Civ. 2443(BSJ).

United States District Court, S.D. New York.

February 8, 2010.


690 F. Supp.2d 178

David Matthew Dore, Phillips Nizer LLP, New York, NY, for Plaintiff and Counter Defendant.

David G. Scudieri, Goldberg, Scudieri, Lindenberg & Block, P.C., Gregory Rawlins Preston, Preston Wilkins & Martin, New York, NY, for Defendants and Counter Claimant.

Brenda P. Dore, New York, NY, pro se.

Opinion and Order

BARBARA S. JONES, District Judge.

On February 28, 2005, Plaintiff Brenda P. Doré ("Plaintiff") filed this diversity action alleging claims arising out of a dispute with Defendants Julian Wormley ("Defendant Wormley"), Zadikim Yisrael ("Defendant Yisrael"), Zechariah Ben Levy, Georgia White, and Chul Hanani ("Defendants") over property and fixtures contained within an edifice located at 1 West 123rd Street in New York City (the "Building").1 On January 4, 2008, the Court dismissed the action with leave to replead, finding that Plaintiff had not adequately pled the requisite amount in controversy to sustain this Court's diversity jurisdiction. On February 4, 2008, Plaintiff filed an Amended Complaint.

Before the Court is Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment pursuant to Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. For the reasons set forth below, Defendants' Motion is GRANTED.

BACKGROUND2

This case concerns the Commandment Keepers Ethiopian Hebrew Congregation

690 F. Supp.2d 179

Pillar and Ground of the Truth, Inc.

690 F. Supp.2d 180

("Commandment Pillar"), a congregation founded in Harlem, New York City in 1921 by Chief Rabbi W.A. Matthew, "the first Chief Rabbi of African parentage in the United States." (Am. Compl. ¶ 3.) In 1962, Commandment Pillar purchased the Building for use as a synagogue. (Id. Ex. 4 ¶ 4.) Plaintiff is Chief Rabbi Matthew's granddaughter. (Id. ¶ 3.) According to Plaintiff, the Building is now a New York City Landmark. (Id. ¶ 21.)

Chief Rabbi Matthew died in 1973. (See Movants' Rule 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 5; Pl.'s Rule 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 5.) Shortly thereafter, a dispute arose between Plaintiff and Commandment Pillar, on the one hand, and a rival congregation associated with the Building, the Commandment Keepers Congregation, Inc. ("Commandment Keepers"). (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 4, 12.) Defendants are members of Commandment Keepers. (See id. ¶ 4.)

Plaintiff states that Defendants, as members of Commandment Keepers, began illegally occupying the Building sometime in the 1970s. (See Movants' Rule 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 7; Pl.'s Rule 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 7.3) Plaintiff further alleges that Defendants have excluded Plaintiff and other members of Commandment Pillar from the Building since that time, preventing Plaintiff from using the Building for religious purposes. (See id.4) Plaintiff also claims that Defendants have damaged the building in the course of their occupation, and that "many of the rooms in this landmark edifice have been damaged or vandalized during the time that defendants were locked in the building." (Am. Compl. ¶ 24.) Plaintiff states that Defendants have received grants from the Landmark Conservancy to repair the Building, but have failed to perform these repairs. (Id. ¶ 30.)

Plaintiff claims that personal property belonging to Plaintiff remained in the Building after she was excluded from the Building in the 1970s. (See Movants' Rule 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 8; Pl.'s Rule 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 8.5) According to Plaintiff, this property included, inter alia, family heirlooms, Torahs, furniture, documents, journals, televisions, and musical instruments. (See id.) Plaintiff claims that she has made multiple demands for the return of personal property allegedly within the Building, but that Defendants have refused to return the property in question. (See Movants' Rule 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 11; Pl.'s Rule 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 11.) Plaintiff further alleges that Defendants have damaged her personal property remaining within the Building, including religious artifacts. (See Am. Compl. ¶ 13.)

On May 17, 2006, Defendants moved in New York State Supreme Court for an injunction prohibiting the Plaintiff from entering into or coming within 500 feet of the Building. (See Movants' Rule 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 22; Pl.'s Rule 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 22.) On June 7, 2008, the State Supreme Court entered a Judgment (the "Judgment") granting the requested relief and stating that "this permanent injunction may be specifically enforced by any law enforcement

690 F. Supp.2d 181

agency of the City and/or State of New York." (See Movants' Rule 56.1 Stmt. ¶¶ 22-23; Pl.'s Rule 56.1 Stmt. ¶¶ 22-23.) In September 2006, Plaintiff was arrested for violating the June 7, 2008 Judgment and being within 500 feet of the Building. (See Movants' Rule 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 26; Pl.'s Rule 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 26.) On January 2, 2007, the Judgment was vacated and the injunction against Plaintiff lifted. (Id.)

In September 2006, a petition (the "Petition") was filed in New York State Supreme Court on behalf of the Commandment Keepers Ethiopian Hebrew Congregation of the Living God, Pillar and Ground of Truth, Inc. requesting leave under Article 12 of the Religious Corporations Law and Article 511 of the Not-For-Profit Corporation Law to sell the Building to an entity known as 31 Mount Morris Park West LLC. (See Movants' Rule 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 34; Pl.'s Rule 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 34; Am. Compl. ¶ 28.) The State Supreme Court granted the Petition in an Order and Amended Order dated November 28, 2006 and April 12, 2007, respectively. (See Movants' Rule 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 34; Pl.'s Rule 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 34.)

On October 17, 2007, following the sale of the Building to 31 Mount Morris Park West LLC, Plaintiff's brother David Matthew Doré ("Counsel Doré"), counsel to Plaintiff in the instant action and a member of Commandment Pillar, moved in New York State Supreme Court to vacate the Orders granting permission to sell the Building. (See Movants' Rule 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 35; Pl.'s Rule 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 35.) In March 2008, the State Supreme Court vacated the Orders granting leave to sell the Building to 31 Mount Morris Park West LLC. (See Movants' Rule 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 36; Pl.'s Rule 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 36.) Commandment Keepers have since resubmitted the Petition for leave to sell the Building to 31 Mount Morris Park West LLC. (See id.) Counsel Doré has filed objections to this Petition. (See id.) The Petition is currently pending before the New York State Supreme Court. (See id.)

Plaintiff filed her original Complaint in this action on February 28, 2005. On January 18, 2007, Defendants filed a motion to dismiss the Complaint, arguing that the parties were not completely diverse and that Plaintiff had not satisfied the amount in controversy requirement of 28 U.S.C. § 1332. In an Order dated January 4, 2008, this Court found that the non-diverse defendants were dispensable parties, dismissed them, and granted Plaintiff leave to file an amended complaint that adequately addressed the amount in controversy.

On February 4, 2008, Plaintiff filed an Amended Complaint in the instant action in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York alleging (1) that Defendants have misrepresented themselves as officers of Commandment Pillar; (2) that Defendants have wrongfully prevented Plaintiff from entering the Building and using it for religious services; (3) that Defendants have stalked and harassed Plaintiff and members of Commandment Pillar; (4) that Defendants have damaged and/or destroyed Plaintiff's personal property within the Building; (5) that Defendants have prevented Plaintiff from recovering personal property within the Building belonging to Plaintiff; (6) that Defendants caused Plaintiff to be falsely arrested; (7) that Defendants have libeled and slandered Plaintiff; (8) that Defendants' attempt to sell the Building to 31 Mount Morris Park LLC was undertaken in violation of New York Religious Corporations Law and the Not-For-Profit Corporation Law; and (9) that Defendants have mismanaged real property once held by Congregation Pillar and by Plaintiff, thereby causing these properties to be

690 F. Supp.2d 182

lost. Defendants now move for summary judgment on all counts.

LEGAL STANDARD

Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that a court shall grant a motion for summary judgment "if the pleadings, the discovery and disclosure materials on file, and any affidavits show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). "The party seeking summary judgment bears the burden of establishing that no genuine issue of material fact exists and that the undisputed facts establish her right to judgment as a matter of law." Rodriguez v. City of New York, 72 F.3d 1051, 1060-61 (2d Cir.1995). The substantive law governing the case will identify those facts that are material and "only disputes over facts that might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law will properly preclude the entry of summary judgment." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986).

In determining whether a genuine issue of material fact exists, a court must resolve all ambiguities and draw all reasonable inferences against the moving party. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587, 106 S.Ct. 1348, 89 L.Ed.2d 538 (1986). "If, as to the issue on which summary judgment is sought, there is any evidence in the record from any source from which a reasonable inference could be drawn in favor of the nonmoving party, summary judgment is improper." Chambers v. TRM Copy Ctrs. Corp., 43 F.3d 29, 37 (2d Cir.1994). However, Plaintiff may not "rely simply on conclusory allegations or speculation to avoid summary judgment, but instead must offer evidence to show that her version...

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36 practice notes
  • Mosdos Chofetz Chaim Inc v. Vill. Of Wesley Hills, Case No. 08-CV-156 (KMK).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. Southern District of New York
    • March 31, 2010
    ...harm caused to the corporation, unless the officer alleges a direct injury not derivative of the company's injury.”); Dore v. Wormley, 690 F.Supp.2d 176, 185-87 (S.D.N.Y.2010) (finding that leader of a religious congregation lacked standing to sue in her personal capacity for misrepresentat......
  • Dist. Attorney of N.Y. Cnty. v. Republic of the Phil., 14 Civ. 890 (KPF)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. Southern District of New York
    • March 29, 2018
    ...plaintiff must show legal ownership or an immediate superior right of possession to a specific identifiable thing[.]" Dore v. Wormley , 690 F.Supp.2d 176, 183 (S.D.N.Y. 2010) (emphasis added) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). To establish standing to bring a replevin claim, a......
  • Egerique v. Chowaiki, 19 Civ. 3110 (KPF)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. Southern District of New York
    • April 24, 2020
    ...of the cause of action for replevin and conversion if defendant is a good faith purchaser." (quotation omitted)); Dore v. Wormley, 690 F. Supp. 2d 176, 183 (S.D.N.Y. 2010) ("Demand upon, and refusal of, the person in possession of the chattel to return it are essential elements of a cause o......
  • Perlman v. Fid. Brokerage Servs. LLC, No. 11–CV–0326 (JFB)(ETB).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of New York)
    • March 26, 2013
    ...Surrogate's Court, and in that sense, the interpleader action is parallel to the state proceeding. See id.; see also Dore v. Wormley, 690 F.Supp.2d 176, 191 (S.D.N.Y.2010) (“Suits are parallel when substantially the same parties are contemporaneously litigating substantially the same issue ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
36 cases
  • Mosdos Chofetz Chaim Inc v. Vill. Of Wesley Hills, Case No. 08-CV-156 (KMK).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. Southern District of New York
    • March 31, 2010
    ...harm caused to the corporation, unless the officer alleges a direct injury not derivative of the company's injury.”); Dore v. Wormley, 690 F.Supp.2d 176, 185-87 (S.D.N.Y.2010) (finding that leader of a religious congregation lacked standing to sue in her personal capacity for misrepresentat......
  • Dist. Attorney of N.Y. Cnty. v. Republic of the Phil., 14 Civ. 890 (KPF)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. Southern District of New York
    • March 29, 2018
    ...plaintiff must show legal ownership or an immediate superior right of possession to a specific identifiable thing[.]" Dore v. Wormley , 690 F.Supp.2d 176, 183 (S.D.N.Y. 2010) (emphasis added) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). To establish standing to bring a replevin claim, a......
  • Egerique v. Chowaiki, 19 Civ. 3110 (KPF)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. Southern District of New York
    • April 24, 2020
    ...of the cause of action for replevin and conversion if defendant is a good faith purchaser." (quotation omitted)); Dore v. Wormley, 690 F. Supp. 2d 176, 183 (S.D.N.Y. 2010) ("Demand upon, and refusal of, the person in possession of the chattel to return it are essential elements of a cause o......
  • Perlman v. Fid. Brokerage Servs. LLC, No. 11–CV–0326 (JFB)(ETB).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of New York)
    • March 26, 2013
    ...Surrogate's Court, and in that sense, the interpleader action is parallel to the state proceeding. See id.; see also Dore v. Wormley, 690 F.Supp.2d 176, 191 (S.D.N.Y.2010) (“Suits are parallel when substantially the same parties are contemporaneously litigating substantially the same issue ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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