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QUAKER CITY YACHT CLUB v. LEON B. WILLIAMS AND NANCY L. WILLIAMS (05/27/81)

decided: May 27, 1981.

QUAKER CITY YACHT CLUB, ALOYSIUS HOEFER AND JAMES F. FAIRBURN, APPELLANTS
v.
LEON B. WILLIAMS AND NANCY L. WILLIAMS, APPELLEES



Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County in case of Leon B. Williams and Nancy L. Williams v. Quaker City Yacht Club and Aloysius Hoefer and James F. Fairburn, No. 2806 March Term, 1978.

COUNSEL

Kenneth S. Siegel, Malis, Tolson & Malis, for appellants.

Jack M. Bernard, for appellees.

Judges Rogers, MacPhail and Palladino, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge MacPhail. Judge Wilkinson, Jr. did not participate in the decision in this case.

Author: Macphail

[ 59 Pa. Commw. Page 257]

Quaker City Yacht Club (Quaker City) is a Pennsylvania non-profit corporation established for the purpose of promoting and encouraging the practice of navigation and aquatic sports. Quaker City bills its members in advance by the quarter.*fn1 On or about October 1, 1977, Quaker City sent a bill to Leon B.

[ 59 Pa. Commw. Page 258]

Williams (Williams)*fn2 which stated that his membership dues for the fourth quarter (October, November and December) were due and that he was three months delinquent on his third quarter dues.

Quaker City sent a certified letter to Williams dated January 2, 1978, postmarked January 5, 1978 notifying Williams that he had been suspended from the club for non-payment of dues. Although the letter had been addressed correctly, it was returned to Quaker City marked "MOVED -- NO ADDRESS." On January 10, 1978, Quaker City received a check dated December 15, 1977 from Williams for $50.00.*fn3 Quaker City returned this check to Williams stating that Williams had been automatically suspended as of January 1, 1978. Williams appeared before Quaker City's Board of Directors (Board) to request reconsideration of the suspension. He argued that he had not received any notice about his delinquency and that the payment had been made in good faith. The Board refused to reconsider the suspension.

Williams filed a complaint in equity with the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County requesting declaratory and injunctive relief. An order granting a preliminary injunction was entered on October 11, 1978 declaring that the purported suspension was invalid and directing Quaker City to reinstate Williams' membership as if it had never been suspended and to permit Williams and his guests to have full use of the club's facilities on the same basis as other members. Quaker City was further directed not to interfere with Williams' membership except on the same basis in which all other members are treated.

[ 59 Pa. Commw. Page 259]

On November 20, 1978, a trial was held. The court held Williams' suspension invalid because Quaker City bylaws failed to give Williams reasonable notice of his delinquency before his membership was terminated, thereby violating the reasonable notice requirement of Section 7545 of the Nonprofit Corporation Law of 1972, as amended, 15 Pa. C.S. § 7545 (Law). Accordingly, a permanent injunction was issued on February 15, 1979. Quaker City filed exceptions to the trial court's adjudication. On November 21, 1979 a court en banc dismissed the exceptions and affirmed the order granting the permanent injunction. Quaker City appealed to the Superior Court of Pennsylvania. The appeal was transferred to this Court because jurisdiction in these matters is vested in this Court pursuant to Section 762(a)(5) of the Judicial Code, 42 Pa. C.S. § 762(a)(5).

Our scope of review in equity matters is limited to a determination of whether the trial court abused its discretion or committed an error of law. Mid Valley Taxpayers v. Mid Valley School, 52 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 402, 416 A.2d 590 (1980). Furthermore, the decision of the equity court will stand "if there exists sufficient evidence to justify the findings and logically sound, reasonable inferences and conclusions ...


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