Court: Man ousted by curling club can take case to overtime

Jun 1, 2015, 2:42 PM

FARGO, N.D. (AP) — A man who is protesting his dismissal from North Dakota curling club has won the right to take his case into overtime.

The North Dakota Supreme Court says C.T. Marhula should be allowed to file a lawsuit to try to retain his membership in the Grand Forks Curling Club, after he was kicked out for allegedly mingling in club matters without approval from the board.

Marhula had appealed to the state’s highest court after a district judge dismissed the suit. In an opinion posted last week, justices agreed with his argument that an individual member of a nonprofit corporation can pursue an “improper termination” claim.

The club’s attorney said it was confident Marhula’s termination will be upheld.

“This was a ruling based on a legal matter questioning whether or not Mr. Marhula had satisfied the North Dakota Century Code’s preconditions for initiating his lawsuit,” lawyer Theodore Sandberg said in a statement. “The facts of the case have not yet been ruled upon by the district court.”

Court documents show the club ended Marhula’s membership and said he approached various agencies about plans for a new curling facility without approval from the board.

Marhula’s lawyer said the club did not give his client advance notice of his termination and waited to oust him until after he had taken his turn to provide food at a weekly league night event.

“He was blindsided,” attorney David Thompson said. “Some people play golf, some people go to hockey games, some people do this or do that. That was his avocation.”

Chief Justice Gerald VandeWalle said in the ruling that although legal action against nonprofits must generally be brought by a certain number of voting members, the Legislature “did not intend an absurd or ludicrous result.”

Thompson believes the ruling could help ensure the rights of all members of nonprofits in North Dakota. Sandberg declined to comment on that.

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Court: Man ousted by curling club can take case to overtime