Restraining order sought by Buddhist temple against member who tried to forcefully take over organization

By Holland Phillips | Sep 10, 2013

NEW ORLEANS – A local Buddhist temple seeks a restraining order against a member who it claims usurped the position of president against the will of the board of directors and has attempted to appoint new officers to the board, violating the temple’s articles of incorporation.

Wat Wimuttayaram Buddhist Temple of Louisiana, Inc. filed suit against Phramaha Wiriya Phonklang in the Orleans Parish Central District Court on July 10.

The Temple claims Phonklang assumed the president’s position when former president, Lord Abbot Phramaha Chamnan Phutthithada, resigned in November 2012.

The defendant is accused of refusing to vacate the office of president against the express wishes of the members of the temple, at which point Phonklang also attempted to appoint new officers and oust previous officers by filing a notice for change and removal of officers with the Louisiana Secretary of State in March 2013. As this action was made without a vote from the board of directors, it violates the temple's articles of incorporation, the suit claims.

The Wat Wimuttayaram Buddhist Temple claims that the motive behind Phonklang’s power grab can be attributed to attempts to support his petition for permanent resident status as a religious worker in the United States.

A temporary restraining order is sought in this case in addition to the return of the temple’s car, any temple documents currently in Phonklang’s possession including stationary and letterhead. The Temple also seeks a declaration of “null and void” be filed against the notice of change and removal of officers. As a part of the injuction, they also seek any equitable relief for disrupting operations and posing harm to the Temple.

The Wat Wimuttayaram Buddhist Temple is represented by Kyle S. Sclafani of New Orleans.

The case has been assigned to Division H Judge Michael G. Bagneris.

Case no. 2013-06424.

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