June 22, 2008 in City

Members sue nonprofit volleyball group

By The Spokesman-Review
 

Ten members of a Spokane-based volleyball organization have filed an amended lawsuit demanding a financial accounting and access to the business records of the nonprofit group.

The lawsuit, filed in Spokane County Superior Court last week, was brought against the U.S. Volleyball Association Evergreen Region and its executive director, Jonathan Lee, commissioner emeritus Kevin Twohig and six other members of the group’s executive board.

The other defendants are: Russ Poage, Margie Ray, Karen Stebbins, April Stark, Meredith Coupland and Ron Farley.

The plaintiffs are seeking court orders giving them access to the books and records of the regional association and “directing that a full and complete accounting be produced.”

The plaintiffs also ask for a third court order to set aside results of a recent election of directors, to be followed by an open election by written ballot.

The Evergreen Volleyball Association board is composed of volunteers, most of whom have children who play.

As part of its affiliation with the United States Volleyball Association, the regional group sponsored the Pacific Northwest Qualifier during the last two weekends in March in Spokane, hosting 300 girls ages 12 to 18.

Plaintiffs in the suit are Crystal Clark, Joan Curtis-Flaherty, Patricia Dorr, Kevin Flaherty, Roberta Hartley and Bob Francis, all of Spokane; James Sackman and Bari Johnson, both of Yakima; and Mike Baker and John Lenghounpraseut, both of Tri-Cities.

Jonathan Lee, reached Friday, said he and the other defendants will be represented by a Seattle attorney hired by the association’s insurance carrier.

“I honestly believe the lawsuit is frivolous,” Lee said. “These things they are bringing up, we’ve done over the years.”

Lee, who also is an attorney, said he will step down in mid-October from the regional association when he joins the U.S. Volleyball Association’s national board of directors.

The plaintiffs and other members of the public can examine the group’s annual Form 990 financial statement filed with the Internal Revenue Service, Lee said. Twohig, executive director of the Spokane Public Facilities District, didn’t immediately return a call Friday seeking comment.

The lawsuit alleges that in October 2006, Crystal Clark, a member of the Evergreen Region group, met with Twohig and was told that elections had not been held for nearly 10 years and that financial information had not been disclosed for years.

The following month, the suit says, Clark was told by Lee that she wasn’t entitled to the group’s financial information, “either as a member or legally.”

The suit alleges that Lee and Twohig have controlled the nonprofit since the mid-1990s and haven’t held elections as required by the group’s bylaws. After the plaintiffs raised that issue, an election was held in April 2007, but its results should be set aside because ineligible votes were cast, the suit says.

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