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Baker-Bey v. Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

April 23, 2013

SHARON BAKER-BEY, Plaintiff,
v.
DELTA SIGMA THETA SORORITY, INC., et al., Defendants

Decided: April 22, 2013.

For SHARON BAKER-BEY, Plaintiff: JACQUIE L. JONES, LEAD ATTORNEY, JONES & ASSOCIATES, PC, MEDIA, PA.

For DELTA SIGMA THETA SORORITY, INC., CYNTHIA M.A. BUTLER-MCINTYRE, NATIONAL PRESIDENT, Defendants: DAMIAN JACKSON, REILLY JANICZEK & MCDEVITT, PC, PHILADELPHIA, PA.

OPINION

Page 660

MEMORANDUM RE: DEFANDANTS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGEMENT

Michael M. Baylson, United States District Judge.

I. Introduction

On March 16, 2012, Plaintiff Sharon Baker-Bey filed her Complaint (ECF 1)

Page 661

claiming common law defamation, breach of fiduciary duty, and negligence against Defendant Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. (" Delta" ) and fourteen Delta officials, including the National President (collectively, " Defendants" ). On October 10, 2012, Defendants filed a Motion for Summary Judgment (the " Motion) (ECF 16). On November 13, 2012, Plaintiff filed her Response (ECF17). Defendants filed a Reply (ECF 21) on December 5, 2012. Plaintiff filed a Sur-Response (ECF 22) on February 12, 2013, to which Defendants did not reply. [1]

For the reasons below, Defendants' Motion is GRANTED.

II. Undisputed Facts[2]

Delta is a sorority that was incorporated in 1913 under the laws of the District of Columbia. (Defs.' Statement of Undisputed Facts (" Def.'s SUF" ) ¶ 1.) Plaintiff became a member of Delta in 1978 and is now an alumnae member. (Id. ¶ 2.) In accordance with its rules and regulations, Delta suspended Plaintiff's membership and fined her $500 after determining that she had violated the sorority's anti-hazing policy. (Id. ¶ 15; Def.'s Mot., Ex. 15.)

According to Delta's Bylaws, members " may be placed on probation, suspended . . . expelled from the Sorority, [or] fined" for violating the sorority's " rules or regulations." (Bylaws, art. XII, sec. 2.A., Defs.' Mot., Ex. 14.) Delta maintains a zero-tolerance policy regarding all matters related to hazing of prospective members. (Defs.' SUF ¶ 3.) In keeping with this policy, Delta:

1. Prohibits alumnae members from participating in its college membership intake process, unless they have been trained and specifically selected to do so (Id. ¶ 4.);
2. Prohibits members from " visit[ing] collegiate or alumnae chapters and participat[ing] in underground or illegal Membership Intake" (Bylaws art. XII, sec. 2.B.); and
3. Maintains a detailed list of " Improper or Unacceptable Conduct," section 5.A. of which prohibits " Pre-initiation or illegal Membership Intake and/or underground activities. Underground activities is [sic] anything in addition to or contrary to approved activities." (Code of Conduct, Defs.' Mot., Ex. 10 (emphasis in the original).)

The list of Improper or Unacceptable Conduct also sets forth sanctions and fines for violations --a first violation of the prohibition on underground activities carries ...


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