Ousted officials of The American Legion in Oklahoma are suing in an effort to get their positions back.
The lawsuit is the latest development in the turmoil surrounding the state operations of the well-known patriotic veterans organization. Almost 28,000 Oklahoma veterans are members, according to a count from 2009.
Ousted state commander George Nonamaker, fired state adjutant Fred Speir and the Oklahoma America Legion Corp. filed the lawsuit late Friday in Oklahoma County District Court.
Named as the defendant is The American Legion itself.
National Legion officials voted March 23 to shut down the Oklahoma headquarters because of financial losses blamed on embezzlement.
Officials were told at a meeting in Washington, D.C., that the losses in Oklahoma could be as high as $500,000 to $1 million.
The national officials voted to relieve all state Legion leaders of their duties, to fire Speir and to freeze the state Legion department’s remaining assets.
A reorganization committee was named to stabilize operations at the Oklahoma headquarters until new state leaders can be selected. Locks at the headquarters were changed Monday.
The ousted state officials are asking Oklahoma County District Judge Barbara Swinton to undo all that.
They also are asking the judge to ban national officials from interfering further in state Legion operations.
They also are asking for money judgments against The American Legion for actual damages, personal injuries and punitive damages.
The ousted officials argue in the eight-page lawsuit that the national officials violated the organization’s own procedures in taking the actions.