Harold L. Randolph, Philadelphia, for appellants.
Neil H. Stein, I. Raymond Kremer, Philadelphia, for appellees.
Watkins, President Judge, and Jacobs, Hoffman, Cercone, Price, Van der Voort and Spaeth, JJ. Spaeth, J., concurs in the result.
[ 243 Pa. Super. Page 36]
In March, 1972, the general membership of the Philadelphia City Employees Federal Credit Union (Union) were involved in the democratic process of electing representatives to the Board of Directors (Board) and to the Credit Committee. Following the election, several newly elected Board and Credit Committee members were denied their elected positions, and two Board members were removed from office before the expiration of their terms. These various Union members filed a suit in equity to reinstate those Board members who were removed and to install in their respective positions those who were not seated. The chancellor determined that the court of common pleas had jurisdiction, and decreed
[ 243 Pa. Super. Page 37]
that plaintiffs-appellees had been improperly denied access to their duly elected offices, or improperly removed from office. The chancellor, the Honorable Jay H. Eiseman, submitted a very excellent and comprehensive opinion. We agree with the lower court and will, therefore, affirm the Decree Nisi.
The somewhat complicated factual setting, as found in the record, indicates that in March, 1972, four of the eleven positions on the Union's Board were up for election. In addition, the general membership of the Union was to fill a one seat vacancy on the five member Credit Committee. The election was vigorously contested.
This election was highlighted by a power struggle for control of the Board and, as such, control of the Union. The principals were appellee Clark Harrington and appellant Reverend Stanley H. Scott. Harrington as a member of the Board, elected to serve until March, 1973, and was also treasurer of the Union. Scott, too, was a member of the Board. He became president of that body in 1971 and was to serve in that office for one year.
Appellee Harrington enlisted the aid of appellee Charles Mancini in his efforts to insure election of those candidates he supported. Mancini was a member of the election committee, the group charged with governing the election, as well as a candidate for one of the vacant seats on the Board. Mancini furnished Harrington with a mailing list of Union members. Harrington used the facilities of the Pilgrim Life Insurance Company to prepare approximately ten thousand items of campaign literature to be sent to Union members. Appellee Joseph Stivala helped Harrington distribute this literature.
At the regular meeting of the Board on March 16, 1972, and while the election was in progress, a resolution suspending appellee Mancini from his position on the election committee was passed. This action was ordered because of the mailing list incident. Mancini was informed,
[ 243 Pa. Super. Page 38]
on March 30, 1972, by a certified letter, that the general membership would consider his suspension at a special meeting which was being held April 9, 1972. In a further action, the Board increased its number from eleven to thirteen and appointed appellants Charles Lundy and Wayne Foster to fill the newly created seats.
The results of the election indicated that appellees Mancini, Michael J. McAllister, and Vincent P. McBride, all supported by appellee Harrington, had been elected to the Board, and that appellee Carlo R. Gambetta, another Harrington candidate, had been elected to the Credit Committee. Kay Batman, the fourth newly elected Board member, was not sympathetic to the Harrington faction.
The special general membership meeting scheduled for April 9, 1972, was called at the direction of appellant Scott. All members of the Union were advised of this meeting by letter dated March 27, 1972. However, prior to the meeting, the various appellees instituted a complaint in equity and obtained an ex parte injunction. This injunction, obtained on April 6, 1972, prevented the April 9, 1972, meeting from taking place as scheduled. There was extensive publicity attending the cancellation of the scheduled meeting: notices were posted in conspicuous places, announcements were made on the radio, and advertisements were printed in the newspaper.
The anticipated cancellation turned out to be premature. On April 8, 1972, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania issued an order dissolving the ex parte injunction, thus permitting the meeting to take place. Unfortunately, the announcement that the meeting would convene as originally scheduled was acclaimed with somewhat less than the far reaching effect the cancellation commanded. The special meeting took place with less than four hundred of the Union's twenty-three thousand members in attendance.
[ 243 Pa. Super. Page 39]
At this special meeting, appellee Gambetta was precluded from taking office as a member of the Credit Committee, and appellant Paul Lewis, an unsuccessful candidate for the seat on the Credit Committee, was installed in his place. Appellees McAllister, McBride, and Mancini, all compatriots of appellee Harrington, were also precluded from taking office and were supplanted by appellants Scott, Burham Smith, and Mayme Robinson. These appellants had sought election to the Board, but were unsuccessful. In addition, appellees Harrington and Stivala were removed from their positions as members of the Board and were ...