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
Civil Action No.:
Thomas R. Meteraud,
American Legion, Department of
South Carolina and John Dellinger,
in his official capacity as
Department Commander for the
State of South Carolina
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
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.
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.
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.
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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.)
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:
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.
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)
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
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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.
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.
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.
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)
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
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) 554-5566 (fax)