The opinion of the court was delivered by: Joseph A. DiClerico, Jr. United States District Judge
The Grand Encampment of Knights Templar of the United States of America ("Grand Encampment") and the Grand Commandery of Knights Templar of New Hampshire brought suit in state court against the Conference of Grand Masters of Masons in North America, Inc. ("Conference") and seven individuals associated with the Conference. The defendants removed the case to this court. Most of the defendants then filed motions to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction.*fn1 The plaintiffs objected to the motions.*fn2
Standard of Review "A district court, faced with a motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction, Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(2), may choose from among several methods for determining whether the plaintiff has met its burden of proving the court's personal jurisdiction over the defendant."*fn3 N. Laminate Sales, Inc. v. Davis, 403 F.3d 14, 22 (1st Cir. 2005) (internal quotation marks omitted). The most common method is to determine whether the plaintiff has proffered sufficient evidence to make a prima facie case of personal jurisdiction. Id. "This inquiry asks whether the plaintiff has proffered evidence which, if credited, is sufficient to support findings of all facts essential to personal jurisdiction." Lechoslaw v. Bank of Am., N.A., 618 F.3d 49, 54 (1st Cir. 2010) (internal quotation marks omitted). Because the parties submitted evidence in support of and in opposition to the motions to dismiss, the court will proceed under the prima facie method.
The Knights Templar is a Masonic fraternal organization. The Grand Encampment is the national level of the organization, with an address in Texas. The Knights Templar operates nationally and on state and local levels. The state organizations are Grand Commanderies; local branches are Commanderies; and individual members are known as Sir Knights.
The Grand Encampment raises money for its charities, the Knights Templar Eye Foundation, the Knights Templar Educational Foundation, and the Holy Pilgrimage Fund, which depend on money raised by Sir Knights through the state Commanderies. Some current and former officers of the Grand Encampment are New Hampshire residents, including Sir Knight Thomas X. Tsirimokos, Past Grand Commander of the Grand Commandery and current Chairman of the Grand Encampment Committee on Templar Jurisprudence.
The Conference and the individual defendants are part of a Masonic organization known as the Grand Masters of Masons. The Conference is located in Missouri. The individual defendants are present and past Grand Masters of Grand Lodges of Free and Accepted Masons in Washington, Oregon, Oklahoma, Alabama, and Illinois and are also present or past members of a Knights Templar organization.
The dispute between the Grand Encampment and the Conference arose as the result of activities on January 22, 2011, in Marseilles, France, during a ceremony held by a French Masonic organization, the Great Priory of Occitania, which was attended by members of the Grand Encampment, the National Grand Lodge of France, the American Canadian Grand Lodge, the United Grand Lodge of England, and the Grand Lodges of Illinois, Indiana, New York, Ohio, Tennessee, and Texas. The Great Priory of Occitania granted a patent to the Grand Encampment to establish the Eleventh Province of the Scottish Rectified Rite ("Rectified Rite"). The Grand Encampment's officers serve as the officers of the Rectified Rite.
In early February of 2011, a gathering known as Masonic Week was held in Alexandria, Virginia. The gathering was attended by members of Masonic organizations, including six Sir Knights from New Hampshire. William R. Miller, a Past Grand Master of the Washington Grand Lodge, prepared a fact sheet which declared that the Charter issued to the Grand Encampment was irregular, meaning improperly or unlawfully established, and accused the Grand Encampment of planning to establish irregular lodges. An attendee at Masonic Week told the New Hampshire Sir Knights about Miller's fact sheet. After Masonic Week, Miller discussed his concerns with other Grand Masters, including G. Santy Lascano, Grand Master of the Washington Lodge, and Ed Bousquet, Grand Master of the Oregon Grand Lodge.
The Conference's Commission on Information for Recognition published a report during the annual meeting of the Conference of Grand Masters, held in Denver, Colorado, at the end of February, declaring that the Grand Priory of Occitania was an irregular organization. The Commission's report also expressed concern about Grand Lodge members associating with irregular organizations. The report was published to all of the Grand Lodges, including New Hampshire's Grand Lodge.
In April, Lascano and Bousquet issued edicts that declared the Grand Encampment and the Rectified Rite to be irregular and directing their members not to communicate with its members. After sending the edict, Bousquet talked by telephone with Tsirimokos, who was in New Hampshire. Bousquet informed Tsirimokos that he was barred from attending the Grand Conclave of Oregon because Tsirimokos held an office within the Grand Encampment.
The Grand Master of the Oklahoma Grand Lodge, Glenn E. Almy, sent a letter to Bousquet in which he stated that the Grand Encampment was irregular and that its members would be barred from an upcoming meeting in Oklahoma. Almy's letter then was sent to other Grand Lodges, including the lodge in New Hampshire.
David P. Owen, the Grand Secretary of the Grand Lodge of Washington sent an email to the Grand Secretaries in all states, declaring the Rectified Rite to be irregular and suggesting similar action by other Grand Lodges. Ronald G. Andress, Grand Master of the Alabama Grand Lodge, and Richard L. Swaney, Grand Master of the Illinois Grand Lodge, sent letters declaring the Rectified Right ...