Kelley v GarudaAnnotate this Case
Decided on October 2, 2017
Supreme Court, Nassau County
Edward Kelley a/k/a ADARSI DAS, THE INTERNATIONAL SOCIETY FOR KRISHNA CONSCIOUSNESS, INC. and THE GOVERNING BODY COMMISSION OF THE INTERNATIONAL SOCIETY FOR KRISHNA CONSCIOUSNESS, Plaintiffs,
Aruna Garuda a/k/a ARUNA DEVI DAS, VISWA GARUDA a/k/a VISWA PRANA DASA, and VIJAY SHAW, Defendants.
La Reddola, Lester & Associates, LLP
Attorneys for the Plaintiff, Edward Kelley
600 Old Country Road
Garden City, New York 11530
Stepanovich Law PLC
Attorneys for the Plaintiffs,
The International Society for Krishna Consciousness, Inc. and
The Governing Body Commission of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness
55 Old Turnpike Road
Nanuet, New York 10954
Law Offices of G. Oliver Koppell & Associates
Attorneys for the Defendant, Viswa Garuda
99 Park Avenue
New York, NY 10016
Randy Sue Marber, J.
Order to Show Cause (Mot. Seq. 25) x
Affirmation in Opposition x
Notice of Motion (Mot. Seq. 26) x
Affirmation in Opposition x
Reply Affirmation x
Transcript of Inquest x
Proposed Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law x
The Defendant, NIKHIL GUPTA ("Gupta") filed a motion (Mot. Seq. 25), seeking an Order pursuant to CPLR § 5015, vacating the default judgment entered against him and dismissing the action, and the Plaintiffs, EDWARD KELLEY a/k/a ADARSI DAS ("Kelley"), THE INTERNATIONAL SOCIETY FOR KRISHNA CONSCIOUSNESS, INC. ("ISKCON") and THE GOVERNING BODY COMMISSION OF THE INTERNATIONAL SOCIETY FOR KRISHNA CONSCIOUSNESS ("GBC") filed a motion (Mot. Seq. 26), seeking an Order pursuant to 22 NYCRR § 130.1, and the Order of Hon. Daniel Palmieri, J.S.C. dated June 8, 2015, imposing sanctions against the Defendant, GUPTA. An Inquest was held in this matter on December 1, 2016, December 13, 2016 and December 14, 2016. Upon conclusion of the Inquest, Proposed Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law were submitted by the Plaintiffs' counsel. A number of conferences were subsequently held as the parties sought to resolve the matter. After the resolution attempts proved unsuccessful, the parties' respective motions and the Plaintiffs' post-Inquest submissions were fully submitted in May 2017.
The Plaintiffs originally commenced this action by the filing of a Summons and Complaint on May 21, 2004 against various defendants (See Summons and Verified Complaint annexed to Defendant's Order to Show Cause as Exhibit "1"). The Defendant, Gupta, was not a named party in the original Complaint. A companion action was commenced in 2007, naming additional parties as defendants, including Gupta (See Summons and Verified Complaint annexed to the Defendant's Order to Show Cause as Exhibit "6").
Subsequently, the Court issued an Order dated March 13, 2008 joining the Defendant, Gupta, as a named Defendant in this action (See Order of the Hon. Roy S. Mahon dated March 13, 2008 annexed to Defendant's Order to Show Cause as Exhibit "3"). The Defendant, Gupta, filed a motion to dismiss the Complaint which was denied per the Order of Special Referee Frank Schellace dated May 4, 2010 (See Order of Special Referee Frank Schellace annexed to Defendant's Order to Show Cause as Exhibit "4").
On December 17, 2013, the Court issued an Order certifying both cases for trial and directing the Plaintiffs to file a Note of Issue (See Order of the Hon. Daniel Palmieri annexed to Defendant's Order to Show Cause as Exhibit "10").
Thereafter, the Plaintiffs filed a motion for summary judgment which was denied by the Order of Justice Palmieri dated December 23, 2015 (See Order of the Hon. Daniel Palmieri annexed to the Defendant's Order to Show Cause as Exhibit "14"). In rejecting the procedural arguments made by Gupta in his opposition papers, the Court found: "If [the defendants] have not served their own answers in this action or have not adopted the answer already served on behalf of the original defendants in this action as their own, then they are in default herein."
The matter was first assigned to this Part for trial in November, 2016 following a decade-[*2]long history litigated before at least four other Justices of this Court. Upon first appearing in this Part when the matter was scheduled for trial, the Court learned that the Defendant had not served an Answer or adopted the Answer on behalf of the original defendants. The Defendant, Gupta, admitted in open Court that he had elected not to adopt the Answer on behalf of the original Defendants, and had not filed an Answer on his own behalf. Nor had Gupta undertaken any efforts to challenge the prior Order finding him in default. Consistent with Justice Palmieri's prior Order declaring any such Defendants in default, this Court set the matter down for an Inquest. Gupta's motion to vacate the default followed.
In support of his motion to vacate the default, Gupta argues that this Court has no jurisdiction to enter the default judgment against him pursuant to CPLR § 5015(a)(4). He further contends that the trial court lacked the authority to sua sponte hold Gupta in default, and thus, the decision was erroneous as a matter of law. Additionally, Gupta claims that, pursuant to CPLR § 3211(f), his time to respond to the Complaint was never triggered because he was allegedly never served with Notice of Entry of the decision adding him as a named Defendant in this action.
Further, Gupta maintains that assuming arguendo that his time to answer the Complaint did begin to run, the Plaintiffs failed to comply with the requirements of CPLR § 3215(c), and such failure requires vacatur of the default and dismissal of the action. Finally, Gupta contends that the Plaintiffs failed to comply with CPLR § 3215(g)(1) by not providing him with the required notice of an application to hold him in default.
In opposition, counsel for the Plaintiffs contends that this Court has personal jurisdiction over Gupta in that he was added as a named Defendant by prior Order in March 2008. Counsel for the Plaintiffs further notes that Gupta was thereafter served with a Summons and a copy of the Complaint. Additionally, the Plaintiffs argue that assuming arguendo that Gupta's default was a sua sponte determination by the Court, Gupta fails to establish that the Court erred in its finding.
According to the Plaintiffs, the cases proffered by Gupta stand for the proposition that the entry of a default judgment is improper only when a defendant is deprived of notice and the opportunity to lay bare his proof. The Plaintiffs contend that, conversely, here, this Court provided the Defendant with multiple opportunities to cure his default but Gupta refused to do so.
The Plaintiffs argue that applicable case law requires the underlying default from failing to answer remains undisturbed. Additionally, the Plaintiffs contend that Gupta's attempt to vacate the default is part of a consistent pattern of dilatory conduct as evidenced by Gupta's repeated efforts to evade litigation and create confusion since the commencement of this action over a decade ago.
Furthermore, the Plaintiffs contend that they will suffer prejudice if the default is vacated as it would unnecessarily extend this nearly 13-year litigation and will impose an additional financial burden on the Plaintiffs.
Lastly, the Plaintiffs posit that the Complaint is not subject to dismissal pursuant to CPLR § 3215(c). The Plaintiffs' counsel argues that they have been actively litigating this action for over a decade and have neither abandoned the Complaint nor lulled the Defendant into believing that they have done so. This is evidenced by the fact that Gupta has participated in the action, when the circumstances are convenient for him.
Notably, Gupta contends that he was not required to proffer proof of a reasonable excuse [*3]for the default or a meritorious defense pursuant to CPLR § 5015(a)(4) on the grounds that the Court lacks jurisdiction. In support, Gupta relies on the Second Department case Paulus v. Christopher Vacira, Inc., 128 AD3d 116 (2d Dept. 2015).
The Defendant's reliance on Paulus is misplaced. In Paulus, while the Court held that the plaintiff failed to provide the defendant proper notice of the motion for default judgment, the Court found that this defect did not, standing alone, entitle the appellant to be relieved of the underlying default upon which judgment was sought. The Appellate Division further held that since the appellant failed to establish a basis to be relieved from his underlying default in failing to answer, that underlying default remained intact. Id.
Gupta's claim that his time to answer the complaint has not been triggered because he was not served with Notice of Entry of the decision adding him as a named Defendant is not a reasonable excuse to vacate the default. In HSBC Bank USA, Nat. Ass'n v. Miller, 121 AD3d 1044, (2d Dept. 2014), the Court held that the defendant failed to establish a reasonable excuse for his default in failing to appear or answer the complaint, since the only excuse he offered was that he was not served with process.
Here, Gupta is claiming that he has not answered the complaint and is not in default because he has not been served with Notice of Entry. However, the Plaintiffs' counsel proffered a copy of such Notice in their papers.
As to Gupta's request for dismissal of the Plaintiffs' Complaint, this Court disagrees that CPLR § 3215(c) requires dismissal. In Gilmore v. Gilmore, 286 AD2d 416 (2d Dept. 2001), the Court held that the plaintiff established a reasonable excuse for failing to timely move for a default judgment against the defendant. The Court found that the plaintiff continued to proceed with the action and did not abandon her complaint. Additionally, the Court found that the defendant's conduct, which included involvement in the action, acted as a waiver of any right he may have had to dismissal of the complaint.
Here, this matter has been litigated well after Gupta's default, and with the participation of Gupta and his counsel. Moreover, the Order of a Justice of coordinate jurisdiction cannot be overturned and the Defendant failed to undertake any efforts to appeal Justice Palmieri's Order. Gupta has failed to establish that the default should be vacated or the action dismissed. The motion to vacate the default judgment is DENIED.
In any event, based on the extensive credible evidence presented at the Inquest as reflected in this Court's Decision after Inquest below, vacating Gupta's default would not result in a different outcome.
As to the Plaintiffs' cross-motion for sanctions, the Plaintiffs' counsel argues that Gupta's instant application is his twelfth dispositive motion to dismiss the Complaint. Counsel alleges that Gupta's motion was made in an effort to harass the Plaintiffs and to further delay the resolution of this action.
The Plaintiffs' counsel notes that in Justice Palmieri's Order dated June 8, 2015, Gupta was warned that further applications that repeat and reallege what has been previously raised would result in the imposition of sanctions. The Plaintiffs allege that Gupta's conduct in this regard is frivolous pursuant to Part 130 of the Uniform Rules, as [*4]Gupta is engaging in the very conduct against which he was expressly warned.
In addition, the Plaintiffs' counsel argues that Gupta's motion is frivolous in that he has previously raised not answering the Complaint as a procedural defense in opposition to the Plaintiffs' prior summary judgment motion. Gupta is now using his failure to answer the Complaint as a sword in his current motion to dismiss, notwithstanding the fact that this argument was rejected by the Court in its decision on the Plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment.
In opposition, counsel for Gupta asserts that the December 13, 2016 Order to Show Cause is a motion to vacate a default, which is not duplicative of any prior motions to dismiss even if a consequence of such vacatur may be a dismissal of the action. He further argues that the application is not repetitive because the grounds for seeking vacatur did not exist until after the denial of the motions to dismiss.
Pursuant to 22 NYCRR § 130.1-1(c)(2), sanctions may be imposed if a party brings frivolous motions. The factors to be considered by the Court are (1) the circumstances under which the conduct took place; and (2) whether or not the conduct was continued when its lack of legal or factual basis was apparent, should have been apparent, or was brought to the attention of counsel or the party.
In this matter, Gupta was initially found to be in default by Justice Palmieri's Order. However, Gupta learned of the consequences of proceeding with an Inquest when he first appeared for in this Part for trial. Immediately thereafter, Gupta hired new counsel who promptly filed an emergency Order to Show Cause to vacate the default. Under these circumstances, this Court declines to impose additional sanctions upon the Defendant.
Accordingly, the motion and cross-motion filed by the respective parties are DENIED. The Court shall next address its Inquest decision.
Decision After Inquest
The Plaintiffs, Kelley, ISKCON, and the GBC brought this action against the Defendants, Gupta and Viswa Garuda ("Garuda"), essentially alleging three causes of action: (i) trespass; (2) corporate usurpation; and (3) declaratory judgment requiring the Defendants to return control of ISKCON, Inc. to the Plaintiffs and to vacate and surrender the temple located at 197 South Ocean Avenue, Freeport, New York ("Freeport Temple") [See Complaint, Court Ex. "1"]. The Plaintiffs also request this Court to find that an express or implied trust was established by the Founder in that all member temples, such as the Freeport Temple at issue here, were intended to be for the benefit of ISKCON. Notably, the Plaintiffs withdrew any claim for monetary damages.
The pertinent facts and evidence deduced from the Inquest held on December 1, 2016, December 13, 2016 and December 14, 2016, are set forth below.
Establishment of ISKCON and the GB" target="_blank">See Kelley v. Garuda, 36 AD3d 593 (2007)].
This Court must now determine whether it may consider the declaratory relief requested, and if so, determine who owns and has authority over the Freeport Temple and [*14]its assets, and the right to possession, the GBC and ISKCON, or the Defendants.
There are Constitutional restrictions that are binding on courts in the context of litigation involving religious institutions. Because of these restrictions, the role of civil courts is severely circumscribed. Jones v. Wolf, 443 U.S. 595, 602 (1979); Serbian Eastern Orthodox Diocese v. Milivojevich, 426 U.S. 696, 709 (1976); Presbyterian Church v. Hull Church, 393 U.S. 440, 449 (1969). "Whenever the questions of discipline, or of faith, or ecclesiastical rule, custom, or law have been decided by the highest of the church judicatories to which the matter has been carried, the legal tribunals must accept such decisions as final and binding on them." Watson v. Jones, 80 U.S. 679, 681 (1871) [emphasis added]. The United States Supreme Court has held that the First Amendment "permits hierarchical religious organizations to establish their own rules and regulations for internal discipline and government, and to create tribunals for adjudicating disputes over these matters." Serbian Eastern Orthodox Diocese for United States and Canada v. Milivojevich, 426 U.S. 696, 724 (1976).
In a hierarchical form of church government, authority is vested in the first instance to the governing body of the local church, but its actions are subject to review and control by a higher church body, in ascending order of authority [First Presbyterian Church of Schenectady v. United Presbyterian Church, 62 NY2d 110, 114 (1984)]. In contrast, in a congregational organized system, a local church is independent of higher church authority and is self-governing. Id.
The longstanding rule enunciated by the United States Supreme Court in 1871 is that civil courts must defer to the determinations of a hierarchical religious institution's highest ecclesiastical body. Watson v. Jones involved a religious property dispute over two rival factions who sought control of a church property in Louisville, Kentucky. 80 U.S. at 681. The Supreme Court found that the local congregation was a member of a larger church subject to its authority, and because the superior ecclesiastical tribunal with a general and ultimate power of control decided in the majority faction's favor, the civil court was bound by such determination. The Supreme Court articulated the standard of review now known as the "complete deference" approach, finding that, "where the religious congregation or ecclesiastical body holding the property is but a subordinate member of some general church organization in which there are superior ecclesiastical tribunals with a general and ultimate power of control more or less complete [and] whenever the questions of discipline, or of faith, or ecclesiastical rule, custom or law have been decided by the highest of these church judicatories to which the matter has been carried, the legal tribunals must accept such decisions as final, and as binding on them". First Presbyterian, 62 NY2d at 119 quoting Watson, 80 U.S. at 722, 727 [emphasis in original].
In Serbian, the Supreme Court considered a case involving a dispute over the control of the American-Canadian Diocese of the Serbian Orthodox Church, including its property and assets. The defendant was removed by the Church as the Bishop of the [*15]American-Canadian Diocese because of his defiance of the church hierarchy. Serbian at 708. The defendant subsequently brought a civil action in State court challenging the Church's decision. The State Supreme Court found that the proceedings resulting in his removal failed to comply with church laws and regulations. Id. In reversing the State Court's judgment, the United State Supreme Court held that, where hierarchical religious organizations establish their own rules and regulations for internal discipline and government, and ecclesiastical tribunals decide such disputes, "the Constitution requires that civil courts accept their decisions as binding upon them." Id. at 725. By inquiring into whether the Church had followed its own procedures, the State Supreme Court had "unconstitutionally undertaken the resolution of quintessentially religious controversies whose resolution the First Amendment commits exclusively to the highest ecclesiastical tribunals of the Church." Id. at 720.
Notwithstanding the "complete deference" standard of review, civil courts may still intercede to decide religious property disputes when confronted with a case involving hierarchical organizations where the use and control of the property can be determined without resolving underlying controversies over religious doctrine. Based on the precedent set by the Supreme Court in Presbyterian Church v. Hull Church, 393 U.S. 440 (1969), and its progeny, the "neutral principles of law" analysis may be applied in property disputes without "establishing" churches to which the property is awarded, and thus, not implicating the establishment and free exercise clauses of the First Amendment are not implicated. [First Presbyterian, 62 NY2d at 119, citing Presbyterian Church v. Hull Church, supra, at 449)].
For purposes of the instant dispute, this Court finds instructive the New York Court of Appeals case of First Presbyterian. In that case, a religious dispute arose between the plaintiff First Presbyterian Church of Schenectady (First Church), and its denominational church organization, the defendant, The United Presbyterian Church in the United States of America (UPCUSA), when the First Church sought to withdraw from the denominational church. The plaintiffs sought a declaration of their independent status and permanent injunction preventing defendants from interfering with the plaintiffs' use and enjoyment of the local church property. As to the declaratory judgment, the New York Court of Appeals agreed with the lower court that such dispute could not be decided without implicating the First Amendment. However, as to the injunctive relief sought concerning plaintiffs' use and enjoyment of the property, the Court of Appeals held that the matter was properly entertained by the court below. [62 NY2d at 117-118].
While the minority faction was found to be part of a hierarchical body, and that such body determined the property dispute adversely to plaintiffs, the New York Court of Appeals held that it was not bound by the determination "if it proves possible to decide the controversy through application of 'neutral principles of law'".
Guided by the foregoing principles in the instant dispute, we find that ISKCON is a hierarchical religious organization and shall apply the neutral principles of law doctrine to resolve whether the Plaintiffs are entitled to use, control and possession of the Freeport [*16]Temple property.
As to its hierarchical structure, ISKCON has a long history of a top-down government structure with a clearly defined ecclesiastical head, the GBC. The Founder ensured the lineage succession of ISKCON before his demise as demonstrated by his Will and creation of the GBC. Following his demise, the GBC was fully vested with the highest ecclesiastical authority within ISKCON, responsible for spiritual and administrative oversight of ISKCON worldwide. This type of "top-down" structure is typical of hierarchically organized religions. See Serbian, supra.
Moreover, ISCKON's 1989 Bylaws, which were established prior to the Defendants' "takeover" of the Freeport Temple, unequivocally set forth that the GBC is the "ecclesiastical head" of ISKCON. Thus, applying the "complete deference" approach, the GBC's resolutions regarding the purely religious controversies between the parties (i.e. whether defendants should have been expelled due to their practice of Ritvik philosophy) are binding on this Court. Any consideration as to which faction of the religion is correct - traditional ISKCON philosophy versus Ritvik philosophy - would be an impermissible inquiry into ecclesiastical issues that rests within the discretion of the GBC.
Accordingly, insofar as the Plaintiffs seek a declaration as to membership within ISKCON or whether the GBC acted appropriately in expelling the Defendants and appointing new trustees, this Court shall defer to the resolutions passed by the GBC in 2005, 2006 and 2008.
We next address the "neutral principles of law" doctrine. Upon a careful, secular review of the record before this Court we find that the dispute regarding ownership and control of the Freeport Temple must be decided in favor of the Plaintiffs.
With regard to the "neutral principles of law" approach, the Supreme Court in Jones v. Wolf, 443 U.S. 595 (1979), explained that the doctrine relies exclusively on objective, well-established concepts of trust and property law familiar to lawyers and judges. Id. at 603. It thereby frees civil courts completely from entanglement in questions of religious doctrine, polity, and practice. Id. The application of the neutral principles method requires a civil court to examine certain religious documents for language of trust in favor of the general church. Id. at 604. However, the Supreme Court cautioned that in undertaking such an examination, a civil court must take special care to scrutinize the document in purely secular terms, not relying on religious precepts. Id. Further, in cases where the deed or the constitution of the general church incorporates religious concepts in the provisions relating to the ownership of property, and the interpretation of the instruments of ownership would require the civil court to resolve a religious controversy, then the court must defer to the resolution of the doctrinal issue by the authoritative ecclesiastical body. Id.
The Appellate Division, Second Department, applied the neutral principles of law approach in Presbyterian of Hudson River of Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) v. Trustees of First Presbyterian Church and Congregation, 72 AD3d 78 (2d Dept. 2010), holding that [*17]the church property in dispute was held by the plaintiff in trust for the religious organization. Courts are required to "look to the constitution of the general church concerning the ownership and control of church property." Id. at 426; see also Episcopal Diocese of Rochester v. Harnish, 11 NY3d 340; First Presbyt. Church of Schenectady v. United Presbyt. Church in U.S. of Am., 62 NY2d 110. In Presbyterian of Hudson River, the Appellate Division highlighted the express trust provision contained in the general church's "Book of Order" as a way in which the national denomination may ensure that church property is retained by the faction loyal to the national denomination upon secession of any particular church.
In the instant matter, documentary evidence such as the certified deed to the Freeport Temple, ISKCON's Bylaws, the ISKCON Law Book, and the Founder's Will, are documents from which this Court may "discern the objective intention of the parties" and "protect the legitimate interests" in securing the Plaintiffs title to property they rightfully own. See First Presbyterian Church of Schenectady 62 NY2d at 121.
The operative Bylaws of 1982, and the revised Bylaws of 1989 approved by the GBC, set forth the voting requirements for leadership within member temples of ISKCON. Specifically, the 1989 Bylaws, approved and adopted by the GBC, prohibits members of the congregation from voting for trustees and officers of the corporation. [Plt. Ex. 64, Tr. at p. 121]. While the Bylaws do contain provisions that involve ecclesiastical or religious doctrine civil courts are barred from considering, this Court need not rely on such provisions to find that the 2005 election held by the Defendants, which allowed congregational members to vote, violated ISKCON's Bylaws. Insofar as the Defendants permitted members to vote in the 2005 "election", they violated ISKCON's Bylaws. The certified copy of the deed to the Freeport Temple and the original Certificate of Incorporation for ISKCON, Inc. also demonstrate the Plaintiffs' rightful ownership of the Freeport Temple. Indeed, the Plaintiffs' purchased the property well before the Defendants' arrival and interference with the Plaintiffs' use and enjoyment of the property. Prior to the 2005 "election" where Gupta and his adherents purportedly changed the leadership of the Freeport Temple, the Plaintiffs sufficiently established that all financial and ecclesiastical issues regarding the Freeport Temple were decided and/or approved by the GBC or its chosen delegates (i.e. the mortgage against the property in 1985 and decision to keep the Freeport Temple open).
Further evidence of the Plaintiffs' ownership and control over the Freeport Temple is their constitution, the ISKCON Law Book, which creates an express trust in favor of the Society at large under the control of the GBC. Section 10.4.4.4 of the ISKCON Law Book requires member temples to hold their real estate and other assets for the benefit of the ISKCON Society under the administration of the GBC. [See Plt. Ex. "19"]. Alienation of ISKCON's real property without the expressed written consent of the GBC or its representatives designated for such purpose is prohibited. ISKCON Law further requires immediate transfer of real property and other assets to a fully recognized affiliate of ISKCON as designated by the GBC Body in the event of voluntary or involuntary [*18]termination of affiliation with ISKCON.
The Founder also established a Trust in the second Article of his Will which declared that each ISKCON temple would be held for the benefit of the ISKCON Society at large. The language of the Trust provision specifies that the GBC would continue to manage the ISKCON Society in perpetuity.
Based on neutral principles of law, this Court finds that the Defendants' continued possession of the Freeport Temple unlawfully interferes with the Plaintiffs' ownership, possession and use of the property. The Defendants must vacate the premises in accordance with the terms of this Order.
Accordingly, it is hereby
ORDERED, that the motion (Mot Seq. 25) interposed by the Defendant, GUPTA, which seeks an order to vacate the default judgment, dismissing the action against him, is DENIED; and it is further
ORDERED, that the motion (Mot. Seq. 26) interposed by the Plaintiffs, which seeks an order imposing sanctions against the Defendant, GUPTA, is DENIED, and it is further
ORDERED, that the Court shall defer to the resolutions passed by the Plaintiff, GBC, concerning the Defendants, as set forth in Plaintiffs' Trial Exhibits "54", "55" and "56", as such are binding on this Court; and it is further
ORDERED, that the Plaintiffs' are GRANTED immediate possession of the Freeport Temple located at 197 South Ocean Avenue, Freeport, New York, and its assets, including any religious deities, and the Plaintiffs' demand for ejectment of the Defendants and individuals who otherwise through the Defendants occupy, reside, lease or claim any other possessory interest in and to the premises, is GRANTED; and it is further
ORDERED, that the Defendants and any individuals who otherwise through the Defendants occupy, reside, lease or claim any other possessory interest in and to the premises and/or its assets shall vacate the premises located at 197 South Ocean Avenue, Freeport New York within thirty (30) days of the date this Order is served upon the Defendants with Notice of Entry; and it is further
ORDERED, that the Plaintiffs are hereby GRANTED a judgment of possession and warrant of eviction which shall be stayed for thirty (30) days from the date this Order is served upon the Defendants with Notice of Entry.
All applications not specifically addressed herein are denied.
This constitutes the decision and Order of the Court.
DATED: October 2, 2017
Mineola, New York
HON. RANDY SUE MARBER, J.S.C. Footnotes
Footnote 1: References to ISKCON refer to the corporation, ISKCON, Inc., which is part of the larger worldwide ISKCON Society.
Footnote 2: Professor Hopkins testified that "ritvik" is a technical term from the Hindu tradition which means someone who is qualified to practice religion or perform rituals at the proper time. The Defendants in this case claim that the Founder had established a principle called the "ritvik principle" which allowed them to initiate disciples in the Founder's name after his death.
Footnote 3: Mr. Deadwyler described a "guru" to be a "spiritual master", one who is trained and initiated as a guru who is then able to accept disciples. In accepting a new disciple, there is a formal initiating ceremony performed that may only be carried out by a guru duly appointed by the GBC. [Tr. at pp. 88-89].