Ugly Spat Between Charities Brought to Court

     (CN) — Before their partnership ended on sour terms, United Way routinely overcharged the United Black Fund, the latter claims in court.
     Filing suit last week in D.C. Superior Court, the nonprofit United Black Fund says it entered into a partnership in 2008 with the United Way of the National Capital Area, “inspired by prior agreements and a long and mutually beneficial, working relationship dating back to 1974.”
     After years of making “a difference in the lives of children, families and communities,” however, United Way allegedly served the fund with a notice to cure on Feb. 11, 2013.
     The fund says its president, Barry LeNoir, wrote to United Way’s then-president and CEO, William Hanbury, and requested a meeting.
     Hanbury instead sent the fund a letter of termination dated June 3, 2013, according to the complaint.
     “Persons associated with [United Way] launched a whispering and mud-slinging campaign smudging, smearing and distorting the important and vital role that [the fund] has played and is playing throughout the Washington metropolitan area,” the complaint states. “These oral and written publications have deeply affected the income and resource development of [the fund].”
     United Way has yet to respond to a letter by the fund demanding restoration of their partnering agreement, according to the complaint.
     Indeed, United Way “has refused to pay plaintiff for its performance, despite having no right to such refusal,” the complaint states.
     A. Scott Bolden, an attorney for United Way with Global Enforcement Group and Reed Smith, denied the allegations.
     “My client has not been formally served with what appears to be a baseless and meritless complaint,” Bolden said. “Therefore, we’ll have no further comment at this time.”
     Though the fund claims responsibility for “higher income” that United Way has seen, it says the defendant nonprofit has “consistently charged plaintiff and its federation members more than the agreed upon administrative fee or processing fee for its collection of combined federal campaign national capital area and D.C. One Fund contributions.”
     The fund says it is entitled to disgorgement of those funds.
     United Way “has sought to coerce plaintiff into accepting defendant’s position on the agreement,” according to the complaint.
     “The wrongful and unlawful threats by defendant have caused plaintiff embarrassment and humiliation, resulting in the slandering and libeling of its good name and reputation,” the complaint continues.
     Seeking punitive damages, the fund alleges eight counts including breach of contract, bad faith, fraud, retaliation, libel and slander.
     The fund is represented by Johnny Barnes.
     It did not return a request for comment on the lawsuit.
     Founded in 1969, the United Black Fund says on its website that it works to “help people help themselves” through family-focused initiatives for the critical needs of special populations.

%d bloggers like this: