Judge leaves door open

Fi­nal or­der re­solved

The Progress-Index Weekend - - FRONT PAGE - By Sarah Vo­gel­song Staff Writer

PRINCE GE­ORGE — A brief hear­ing in Prince Ge­orge Fri­day set­tled a dis­pute over the court’s fi­nal or­der in a law­suit brought by the lim­ited li­a­bil­ity com­pany that over­sees Hopewell’s Bea­con The­atre against the John Ran­dolph Foun­da­tion but left the door open for fu­ture pro­ceed­ings.

Judge W. Allan Shar­rett, pre­sid­ing over Hopewell Cir­cuit Court from the Prince Ge­orge court­room, gave the John Ran­dolph Foun­da­tion seven days to sub­mit a re­sponse to the Bea­con LLC’s mo­tion

to re­con­sider the case con­cern­ing an al­most $1 mil­lion be­quest from Ursula M. Gibbs to the foun­da­tion “for the ben­e­fit of the Bea­con The­ater.”

Shar­rett also stated that he will pro­vide a rul­ing within 30 days as to whether he will hold a hear­ing on re­con­sid­er­a­tion of the case.

The dis­pute, which has lasted more than two years, con­cerns the ques­tion of who should have au­thor­ity over the dis­posal of Gibbs’ be­quest. The Bea­con LLC, which brought the ini­tial law­suit, has ar­gued that the John Ran­dolph Foun­da­tion il­le­gally cre­ated an en­dow­ment for the Gibbs funds and is will­fully with­hold­ing the be­quest from the the­ater, which has not re­ceived any monies from the foun­da­tion since the 2014 set­tle­ment of the es­tate.

The foun­da­tion in turn has con­tended that it did have the right un­der Vir­ginia law to cre­ate an en­dow­ment for the funds and that the Bea­con LLC must fol­low its en­dow­ment pro­ce­dures, which in­volve the sub­mis­sion of a con­cept pa­per jus­ti­fy­ing its pro­posed use of an­nual in­ter­est pay­ments.

This past Jan­uary, Shar­rett ruled in fa­vor of the foun­da­tion, declar­ing that “the Foun­da­tion has not com­mit­ted any ju­di­cially cog­niz­able abuse of dis­cre­tion re­gard­ing the use of the The­atre funds” and that it “is act­ing within the lim­its of its dis­cre­tion.”

How­ever, the two sides con­tin­ued to quar­rel over the word­ing of the fi­nal or­der. The Bea­con LLC sought an ex­plicit state­ment of the John Ran­dolph Foun­da­tion’s duty to use the funds to ben­e­fit the Bea­con The­atre, with at­tor­ney Wil­liam Sleeth ar­gu­ing in court May 12 that the lack of such a state­ment could cause le­gal dif­fi­cul­ties down the line.

In re­turn, foun­da­tion at­tor­ney Michael Shebel­skie main­tained that the Bea­con’s word­ing sought to “sub­tly … re­write the terms of the will” by spec­i­fy­ing that the funds be used for the ben­e­fit of the “plain­tiff” — the LLC that cur­rently con­trols the the­ater — rather than the the­ater it­self.

On Fri­day, Shar­rett again ruled in fa­vor of the foun­da­tion, say­ing, “Im­plicit in the law is the John Ran­dolph Foun­da­tion’s duty to use these funds in ac­cor­dance with the law.”

The judge will now de­ter­mine whether the mo­tion for re­con­sid­er­a­tion should move for­ward. —Sarah Vo­gel­song may be reached at svo­gel­song@progress-in­dex.com or 804-722-5154.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.