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Mosque v. Salim

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Tenth District

June 27, 2013

Masjid Omar Ibn El Khattab Mosque, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
Hamid Salim et al., Defendants-Appellees.

APPEAL from the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas (C.P.C. No. 11CVH-14615)

Reash Law Offices, LLC, and Maryellen Corna Reash, for appellant.

Rosenberg & Ball Co., LPA, and David T. Ball; Blaugrund, Herbert, Kessler, Miller, Myers, Postalakis, Inc., and Fazeel S. Khan, for appellees.

DECISION

KLATT, P.J.

{¶ 1} Plaintiff-appellant, Masjid Omar Ibn El Khattab Mosque ("Omar Mosque"), appeals a judgment of the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas that dismissed its action against defendants-appellees, Hamid Salim, Khaled Khamees, Nihad Al Khalidi, Fouad ElFaour, Dina Y. Ali, Hagar Diab, and Mohammed Allouche. For the following reasons, we affirm in part and reverse in part.

{¶ 2} Omar Mosque is an Ohio nonprofit corporation that operates a place of worship for believers of Islam in Columbus. In 2007, the Islamic Society of Greater Columbus incorporated Omar Mosque and selected the members of Omar Mosque's board of directors. Originally, each board member was to serve only two years, until December 31, 2009. Five of the original seven board members, however, remained in their offices beyond the expiration of their original terms. Two members left the board, but were not replaced.

{¶ 3} The board decided to renovate and expand the mosque. By September 2011, they had raised approximately $360, 000 for their construction project, and they chose Maverick Builders, Inc. ("Maverick") to be their general contractor.

{¶ 4} Meanwhile, defendants began to challenge the board's decisions. Defendants demanded an election of new board members to replace the original board. In response to defendants' demand, the board scheduled an election for October 8, 2011. In the election, mosque members would vote for one of two options. Under the first option, Omar Mosque would hold an election in April 2012 to add four more members to the already existing board. Under the second option, Omar Mosque would hold an election in April 2012 to elect nine new board members to replace the existing board. In order to vote in the October 8, 2011 election, members had to sign an oath agreeing to accept the results of the election and cease argument. The majority of members who voted in the October 8, 2011 election chose the first option.

{¶ 5} Dissatisfied with the October 8, 2011 election, defendants scheduled a special meeting of mosque members for October 22, 2011. At that meeting, mosque members held an election for all new board members and elected defendants to the board. Immediately thereafter, the newly-elected board met and appointed Salim president and ElFaour treasurer.

{¶ 6} Pursuant to a resolution of the second board, Salim and ElFaour notified JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A. ("Chase Bank"), at which Omar Mosque maintained bank accounts, of the election of the new board. Salim and ElFaour then transferred signing authority for Omar Mosque's bank accounts to themselves. The second board also notified Maverick of their election and informed Maverick that the original board no longer had authority to act on Omar Mosque's behalf

{¶ 7} When the president of the original board discovered what had occurred, he contested the second board's actions. In response, Chase Bank froze Omar Mosque's accounts. This prohibited the original board from paying Maverick as invoices for Maverick's services became due.

{¶ 8} On November 23, 2011, Omar Mosque, at the instigation of the original board, filed suit against the members of the second board. The complaint included claims for fraudulent misrepresentation, intentional interference with business relationships, and civil conspiracy. The original board alleged that the second board fraudulently attempted to gain control over Omar Mosque's governance and bank accounts, and unlawfully interfered with Omar Mosque's business relationships with Chase Bank and Maverick. In addition to seeking damages, the original board requested that the trial court grant an injunction requiring the members of the second board to disclose to Chase Bank, Maverick, and others that "they have no authority to control, conduct, or direct the affairs of Omar Mosque, and restraining them from representing to the members of the Mosques [sic] and any other third parties that they have such authority." (R. 5 at 11.)

{¶ 9} The members of the second board answered the complaint and filed a counterclaim. The counterclaim requested that the trial court issue a declaratory judgment stating that the legitimate board of the Omar Mosque was the second board, and not the original board. The counterclaim also asked for injunctive relief prohibiting the original board from acting as Omar Mosque's board of directors.

{ΒΆ 10} On February 16, 2012, the trial court signed and entered on the record an "Agreed Entry to Interplead Funds." In that entry, the trial court directed Chase Bank to deposit with the clerk of courts the funds in Omar Mosque's accounts, which amounted to $432, 313.19. The entry also stated that the original board and the second board would proceed to establish their respective claims to the funds in the instant action. "Until such time [that the trial court] order[ed] and direct[ed] how and to whom the ...


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