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Scott E. Mollen

Dispute Over Ownership of Hindu Temple – Contract Was Never Approved By Board of Trustees and “Umbrella” Organization – Adverse Possession, Equitable Title, Unjust Enrichment and Implied Covenant of Good Faith and Fair Dealing Claims Rejected

The plaintiff and the defendant are two “Hindu religious organizations.” The defendant temple (defendant) moved for partial summary judgment dismissing a complaint, and for a judgment declaring, “pursuant to RPAPL Article 15, that plaintiff…and every person claiming under it,” (plaintiff) are “barred from all claims to an estate, interest or lien in, to, or upon the subject premises;” (premises or property) “declaring, pursuant to RPAPL Article 15, that [defendant], against [plaintiff]…, is vested with an absolute and unencumbered title…to the…premises;” “declaring, pursuant to RPAPL Article 6, that sole…possession be awarded to [defendant], and…a warrant of eviction, ordering [plaintiff]…, to remove themselves from the…premises and be dispossessed of the…premises;” “declaring, pursuant to RPAPL Article 15, that [plaintiff]…, by title accruing after the filing of the judgment-roll, or of the notice of the pendency of the action, as prescribed by law, be forever barred from asserting such claim to an estate or interest, the invalidity of which is established in this action;” “awarding damages to [defendant] against [plaintiff] for…withholding of possession of the…premises;” and “granting rent arrears against [plaintiff]” in the amount of approximately $413,000, plus the fair value of use and occupancy (U & O) of the premises after May 31, 2015, together with costs and disbursements.

The defendant was incorporated as a not-for-profit corporation (NFPC) in 1972, and is also a religious corporation. In 1993, the defendant purchased the property, for $900,000. In 1994, the defendant purchased another parcel, also for $900,000. The defendant paid the seller $200,000 in cash, and executed a purchase money note and mortgage for $700,000 (PM Mortgage). The defendant thereafter combined the adjoining properties to create “a large Hindu temple, known as Divya Dham Temple” (DDT). DDT “operates as a branch of [defendant], and is affiliated with” an organization located in India. “A,” a Hindu monk, founded DDT and the defendant. “B” a different Hindu monk, was affiliated with an American branch of a different Hindu organization.

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