CINCINNATI (TDB) -- A federal judge's ruling in Ohio may be dimming Founder's Day festivities for Alpha Kappa Alpha, the original Greek-lettered sorority for African American women. U.S. District Judge Christoper A. Boyko ruled the 250,000-member sorority can be sued for breach of contract, negligence and violation of due process claims and declined to dismiss the case The lawsuit was filed last March by Pamela Redden, a Cleveland physician who claims she was targeted for acts of retribution by the sorority's national leadership. Redden contends she was investigated because she intended to run for first vice president in 2010. Boyko dismissed individual charges against Barbara A. McKinzie, the president (Supreme Basileus), and other leaders of the Chicago-headquartered organization.
The case is 1:09-cv-0070 in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio. In his ruling, the judge said Redden was not defamed by the sorority actions against her, which included a fine and suspension. He also said there wasn't a conspiracy. But he said there was enough material to allow the case to go forward:
"Ultimately [Dr. Redden] was suspended for one year and fined $9,500 as a condition of reinstatement . . Imposing a fine of $9,500 on plaintiff, without providing a fair proceeding as outlined in defendant's Constitution and Bylaws,, substantially affects Plaintiff's economic rights. Therefore, the Court denies the Defendant's Motion to Dismiss with regard to Plaintiff's due process claim."
Judge Boyko said the inter-sorority dispute dated back to 2006, when Redden was campaigning for national office in the sorority. The Cleveland physician aired concerns about financial issues that included conflicts of interest at the top. The judge said Redden "contends that Defendant McKinzie and others viewed the legitimate discussion of these financial issues as a personal attack on Defendant McKinzie's integrity. This allegedly prompted Defandant McKinzie to make an effort to stifle such discussions, including acts of retrituion against Plaintiff because she was identifiably vocal."
January 15 (today) is Founder's Day and there is more here about that important date in Alpha Kappa Alpha's history. Perhaps the litigation hanging over the sorority won't spoil is parties at the 900 chapters around the nation.