Allegations of financial impropriety within Alpha Kappa Alpha, Inc. will get an airing in court, the D.C. Court of Appeals ruled Aug. 18, reversing the dismissal of a lawsuit filed by members of the nation’s oldest Black sorority.
Dismissal of the lawsuit questioning $375,000 the sorority leadership gave AKA President Barbara McKenzie was in error, the three-judge panel ruled, reinstating the lawsuit filed by eight members in 2009.
The original lawsuit said the payment to McKenzie was not properly approved by the membership and that the money, which included a $25,000 payout and a $4,000 a month stipend for the president, was used for clothing, jewelry, and a wax statue of McKenzie.
The suit was dismissed in 2010 by a D.C. Superior Court judge who said the Chicago-based plaintiffs failed to accuse the sorority and its leadership of taking actions prohibited by statute, that the suit wasn’t filed on behalf of the entire membership; and that the court lacked jurisdiction over individual officials who don’t live in Washington.
The panel said that, unlike allegations of impropriety by shareholders of a for-profit organization, dues-paying members of a non-profit group can sue as individuals and aren’t required to file a class action.