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Schlafly v. Eagle Forum

United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division

September 7, 2017

ANDREW L. SCHLAFLY, Plaintiff,
v.
EAGLE FORUM, et al, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          JOHN A. ROSS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter is before the Court on Defendants Eunie Smith, Cathie Adams, Rosina Kovar, and Carolyn McLarty's (the "individual Defendants") motion to quash service of summons and complaint (Doc. 6); Defendant Eagle Forum's motion to dismiss or, in the alternative, to transfer (Doc. 16); Defendant Eagle Forum's motion to strike (Doc. 19); Plaintiffs motion for temporary restraining order (Doc. 9); and Plaintiffs motion for preliminary injunction (Doc. 10). Plaintiff has not filed an opposition to any of the aforementioned motions filed by Defendants, and the time to do so has passed. For the reasons set forth below, the Court will grant the motion to quash; deny the motion to dismiss; deny as moot the motion for temporary restraining order; deny without prejudice the motion for preliminary injunction; and deny as moot the motion to strike;.

         I. Background

         The Parties

         Plaintiff is the eldest son of the late Phyllis Schlafly, a conservative political activist who founded several non-profit entities to further her causes, including Defendant Eagle Forum. (Doc. 8, Complaint ("Compl."), at ¶¶ 1, 26; see also Phyllis Schlqfly Revocable Trust, et al. v. Anne Cori, et al., 4:16-cv-01631-JAR, Doc. 51, at 2).[1] Defendant Eagle Forum is a corporation formed under the Illinois General Not for Profit Corporation Act and governed by the Bylaws of Eagle Forum ("Bylaws"). (Doc. 17, at 4). Phyllis Schlafly formed Eagle Forum to advance her conservative activism on a national level and to further the notion that citizen-volunteers, through rigorous advocacy, can influence government policies on federal, state, and local levels. (Phyllis Schlafly Revocable Trust Litigation, Doc. 56, at 2). At the time this lawsuit was filed in St. Louis County Circuit Court on January 25, 2017, the Eagle Forum Board consisted of nine directors: Ann Schlafly Cori, Defendant Eunie Smith, Defendant Cathie Adams, Defendant Carolyn McLarty, Defendant Rosina Kovar, Shirley Curry, John Schlafly, Andrew Schlafly, and Kathleen Sullivan. (Id.). Plaintiff's the brother of Ann Cori and John Schlafly. (Doc. 28 at 1).

         Events Leading up to this Case

         There are a number of pending lawsuits in various jurisdictions between the "Majority Directors" and "Minority Directors" of Eagle Forum after rifts developed within its leadership. The "Majority Directors" included Anne Cori, Defendant Eunie Smith, Defendant Cathie Adams, Defendant Rosina Kovar, Defendant Carolyn McLarty, and Shirley Curry. The Minority Directors consisted of Plaintiff, John Schlafly, and Kathleen Sullivan. (Doc. 17 at 3).

         In the months leading up to Phyllis Schlafly's death, John Schlafly and Anne Cori disagreed as to the positions they believed Phyllis Schlafly and Eagle Forum should have taken on certain political issues, most notably the issue of which candidate to endorse in the 2016 U.S.

         Republican Presidential Primary. (Phyllis Schlafly Revocable Trust Litigation, Doc. 56, at 3). Ed Martin was formerly the president of Eagle Forum, and he was allegedly endorsed by Phyllis Schlafly. (Id.). However, on April 11, 2016, the Majority Directors voted to remove Ed Martin from his leadership role. (Id.). That vote gave rise to litigation filed in the Circuit Court for the Third Judicial Circuit in Madison County, Illinois, see Cori v. Martin, No. 2016MR000111 (111. Cir. Ct. Oct. 20, 2016) ("the Madison County case"). (Id.).

         On October 20, 2016, the Madison County court entered an amended TRO, suspending John Schlafly from the Eagle Forum Board, enjoining him from accessing Eagle Forum property, and granting the Majority Directors temporary sole control of and possession over all Eagle Forum property ("Madison County TRO").[2] (Id. at 5). On January 9, 2017, Defendant Eunie Smith, Defendant Cathie Adams, and Anne Cori called a special meeting of the board for the purpose of removing John Schlafly, Plaintiff, and Kathleen Sullivan as directors. (Doc. 8-2). That meeting, scheduled on January 28, 2017, is the subject of this litigation.

         The Instant Action

         On January 19, 2017, Plaintiff filed this action in St. Louis County circuit court seeking a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction enjoining the individual Defendants from taking any action not authorized by the Bylaws, and specifically enjoining the individual Defendants from holding or participating in the January 28, 2017 meeting. (Compl. at ¶¶ 23-51). Plaintiff also seeks a declaratory judgment that the January 28, 2017, is (now was) in violation of the Bylaws and is ultra vires, and that the individual Defendants are acting in bad faith. (Id. at ¶¶ 52-57). Defendant Eagle Forum removed the case to this Court, and a number of motions were filed by both Plaintiff and Defendants.

         The case was originally assigned to another District Judge who set Plaintiff's motion for temporary restraining order for a hearing, but the parties agreed that no hearing would be needed. On January 26, 2017, the case was reassigned because Plaintiffs complaint was significantly similar to the Phyllis Schlafly Revocable Trust Litigation, which was pending before the undersigned. (Doc. 24). Thereafter, Plaintiff filed a motion to remand the case to state court (Doc. 27).[3]

         II. Discussion

         Motion to Quash Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 4(e)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides ...


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