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Imam, Islamic Society entitled to fees from deposed member

August 19, 2016

A man who was drummed out of the Islamic Society of Michiana’s board of directors filed a combative, confusing brief demonstrating bad faith when he appealed a trial court’s dismissal of his pro se suit seeking $5.2 million in damages. Now he’s on the hook for damages.

Amir Basic was a member of the South Bend-based ISM’s board until April 2015, when the membership voted 121-2 to remove him. This followed his suspension after he was accused of, among other things, removing official documents, refusing to return them and arranging to have Gerard Arthus post them online, disrupting board meetings, threatening board members, and restricting access to and vandalizing a meeting room and bathroom.

The Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed St. Joseph Superior Judge Steven L. Hostetler’s rulings that the court lacked subject matter jurisdiction, Basic lacked standing to bring the suit, and certain subpoenas should be quashed. The court also granted the imam and the ISM board of directors’ request for damages, including appellate attorney fees, under Indiana Trial Rule 66(E).

Judge Terry Crone wrote that Basic failed to present a cogent argument and acted in procedural bad faith in Amir Basic and Gerard Arthus v. Numan A. Amouri, Mohamad H. Mohajeri, Mohammad Aslam Chaudhry, Adnan Khan, Imdad Zackariya, Mohammad Sirajuddin, Sarah Shaikh, Aijaz Shaikh, Ismail Al-Ani, et al.,71A03-1510-PL-1820.

“The following are mere snapshots of the invective included in Appellants’ brief: (1) Appellants accuse Appellees’ counsel of ‘obfuscatory mouthing’s [sic],’ ‘Sophistic wrangling’s [sic],’ and being ‘well-versed in the art of obfuscation’; (2) Appellants accuse Appellees of being ‘intellectually’ and ‘morally corrupt,’ engaging in ‘nefarious schemes,’... and (3) Appellants accuse the trial court of conducting a ‘courtroom farce’ and ‘sham proceedings,’” Crone wrote.

The court can cut no slack for pro se litigants when it comes to acting in procedural bad faith, Crone wrote.

“Appellants were required to follow the rules of appellate procedure and failed to comply. Their appendix is defective, and their brief is practically devoid of discernible legal argument. Instead, the brief is laced with unseemly invective that permeates its entire fifty-eight pages. Their argumentative facts section and blistering handwritten remarks on the face of the appealed order reveal a flagrant disregard for the rules of appellate procedure. In other words, Appellants have demonstrated procedural bad faith. ... (W)e conclude that an award of damages, including appellate attorney’s fees,
is appropriate in this case,” the panel held.

The case is remanded for a determination of damages in favor of the imam and ISM board members.

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