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Grand Encampment of Knights Templar of the United States of America, et al. v. Conference of Grand Masters of Masons In North America

March 6, 2012

GRAND ENCAMPMENT OF KNIGHTS TEMPLAR OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, ET AL.
v.
CONFERENCE OF GRAND MASTERS OF MASONS IN NORTH AMERICA, INC., ET AL.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Joseph A. DiClerico, Jr. United States District Judge

Opinion No. 2011 DNH 051

ORDER

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 against the Conference of Grand Masters of Masons in North America, Inc. ("Conference") and seven individuals associated with the Conference, alleging intentional interference with contractual relations, intentional and negligent misrepresentation, and a civil conspiracy. The defendants then filed motions to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction, which were granted.*fn1 The plaintiffs move for reconsideration.

Standard of Review

A motion for reconsideration is appropriate only in limited circumstances. United States v. Allen, 573 F.3d 42, 53 (1st Cir. 2009). Reconsideration may be granted "where the movant shows a manifest error of law or newly discovered evidence, or where the district court has misunderstood a party or made an error of apprehension." Villanueva v. United States, 662 F.3d 124, 128 (1st Cir. 2011). Motions for reconsideration cannot be used to address arguments the plaintiff already made or to raise new arguments that could have been raised before the court's initial ruling. Feliciano-Hernandez v. Pereira-Castillo, 663 F.3d 527, 537 (1st Cir. 2011).

Background*fn2

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 addressed in the motion for reconsideration are William R. Miller, a Past Grand Master of the Washington Grand Lodge; David P. Owen, the Grand Secretary of the Washington Grand Lodge, and Ed Bousquet, the Grand Master of the Oregon Grand Lodge.

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. Miller 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 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, Bousquet issued an edict that declared the Grand Encampment and the Rectified Rite to be irregular and directing the members of the Oregon Grand Lodge not to communicate with members of the Grand Encampment and the Rectified Rite. 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. 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.

The Grand Encampment alleges that the charges of irregularity are false and defamatory and have interfered with the Grand Encampment's ability to raise money for its charities. In this action, the plaintiffs bring claims of intentional interference with contractual relations, ...


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