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2:07-cv-00447-DCN Date Filed 02/14/07 Entry Number 1 Page 1 of 4

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF SOUTH CAROLINA

CHARLESTON DIVISION

Civil Action No.:

COMPLAINT

Thomas R. Meteraud,

Plaintiff,

vs.

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_____________________________ )

American Legion, Department of
South Carolina and John Dellinger,
in his official capacity as
Department Commander for the
State of South Carolina
American Legion,

Defendants.

1.

The plaintiff is a member of the American Legion and currently serves in the following

capacities: member of Executive Committee of Post 179 as past commander, honorary life

member of Post 179, First Vice Commander of the South Carolina Department of the American

Legion, and scheduled to ascend to the Commandership of the State American Legion in June

2007.

2.

The American Legion is a federally charted national organization created by an Act of

Congress as set forth in Title 36 § 21701, et. seq., U.S.C.A.

3.

John Dellinger is the current State Commander (also known as Department Commander)

of the Department of South Carolina American Legion and is named only in his official capacity.

4.

John Dellinger in his official capacity as Department Commander has caused to be issued

a disciplinary procedure against the plaintiff in violation of the Department of South Carolina

and National Constitution and Bylaws.

2:07-cv-00447-DCN Date Filed 02/14/07 Entry Number 1 Page 2 of 4

5.

The Court has jurisdiction over this case under Title 28 § 1331 because the defendant,

American Legion, is a federally chartered patriotic organization established by Title 36 § 21701

– 21708, U.S.C.A., and the issue presented involves the denial of due process guaranteed by the

United States Constitution. (28 § 1349 divests the district court of jurisdiction in actions against

corporations incorporated under an Act of Congress, unless the United States is the owner of

more than one-half of its capital stock. However, the present case before the Court raises a

federal constitutional question, and therefore jurisdiction is proper under § 1331.)

6.

The alleged disciplinary proceeding which the American Legion proposes to hold is in

violation of constitutionally guaranteed due process and in violation of the requirements of the

National and State Constitutions and by-laws in the following particulars:

A.

The charges are improperly lodged because charges can only be made in writing

under oath by the accuser. Here, there are no sworn charges other than the State

Commander’s summary of charges by others.

B.

The allegation of charges against a state officer may only be made by another

department officer, and here the charges based upon the unsworn written statement of

a member who is not a department officer. (“Upon the filing of any officer of charges

against any other officer of the Department, coming out of the failure on his part of

performing the duties of his office, according to the Constitution and by-organization

[sic. laws], neglect, incapacity, or inability to serve, or failure to carry out the orders

of directions of the department executive committee or the Department Commander.”

Article XI, Section 2 Constitution and By-laws)

C.

The allegations are improper for failure to provide adequate minimal notice by failing

to provide particulars of the charges and sufficient time to prepare. (Then the officer

2:07-cv-00447-DCN Date Filed 02/14/07 Entry Number 1 Page 3 of 4

shall be served with a certified copy of the charges and shall be given twenty (20)

days from the set date to file a request with the department adjutant of the charges

before the department executive committee. Upon notification by the Department

adjutant of a date fixed and time set, he shall be required to appear before the

executive committee and answer the charges as may be preferred against him.”

Article XI, Section 2.

D.

Despite written and oral demands for explanation of the procedure employed by the

defendants, the defendants have refused and continue to refuse to disclose the manner

in which the proceedings of February 17, 2007, will be conducted.

7.

That despite several efforts both orally and in writing to the State Commander demanding

that he conform to the minimum requirements set forth in the state and national constitutions, the

defendants have refused and continue to refuse to conform to the minimum due process

requirements set forth in the State and National Constitutions and by-laws.

8.

That the defendants have further attempted to “suspend” the plaintiff from his department

and post duties without providing a hearing or an opportunity to be heard in violation of the

specific protections afforded by the National and State Constitutions and by-laws and by the

Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution as the plaintiff’s membership in the legion

and the positions of authority which he holds are property interests protected by due process.

(“Members may be suspended or expelled from the Legion only upon a proper showing of cause.

Charges shall be based upon disloyalty, neglect of duty, dishonesty and conduct unbecoming a

member of the American Legion. All charges must be made under oath in writing by the

accusers, and no member in good standing shall lose his membership until given a fair trial by

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the Post or the Department in such manner and form as the Department by-laws and the

Department Executive Committee shall proscribe.” Article IV, Section 2 (emphasis added)

9.

The plaintiff is informed and believes that he is entitled to an order of the Court

temporarily enjoining the defendants from conducting a disciplinary proceeding against the

plaintiff until the defendants conform to the minimal due process requirements guaranteed by the

National and State Constitutions and by-laws and by the minimal due process required by the

United States Constitution.

Wherefore, having fully set forth his verified complaint (verification in accompanying

affidavit), the plaintiff prays for an injunction, both temporary and permanently, enjoining the

defendants from instituting or conducting a disciplinary proceeding against him until such time

as the defendants conform to minimal due process requirements as established by the State and

National Constitutions of the federally charted American Legion, and as established by the

United States Constitution, and for such other and further relief as the Court deems just and

proper, including an award for attorney’s fees as allowed by Title 42 § 1988 of the United States

Code, ann.

February 13, 2007

/s/ Thomas R. Goldstein
Thomas R. Goldstein
Federal I.D. 2132
Belk, Cobb, Infinger & Goldstein, P.A.
P. O. Box 71121
N. Charleston, S. C. 29415-1121
(843) 554-4291
(843) 554-5566 (fax)
[email protected]