Girardi | Keese

Los Angeles man files suit against Children's Wish Foundation

Listed as one of the worst charities in the United States, things have seemingly grown worse for the Children's Wish Foundation when a Los Angeles man filed a class actionlawsuit against the charity.

The Georgia-based foundation has been ranked number three on a list of the worst American charities by both the Tampa Bay Times and The Center for Investigative Reporting. That ranking is based on monetary amounts that U.S. charities spend soliciting donations.

The class action lawsuit further stokes the fires beneath the charity with the plaintiff's claims that he was misled to believe his donations would go to the aid of needy children. Experts suggest this type of suit as extremely rare in which donors sue charities.

"It's generally accepted that donors do not have standing to enforce a charitable gift; only state attorneys general have that power," said a chief charity investigator associated with the complaint. "There are a couple of courts that have recognized such standing due to special circumstances, but they are the exception, not the rule."

Although this particular suit has little to no precedent, Children's Wish Foundation has not traditionally been immune to lawsuits, either filed against it or suits the charity itself has filed.

In 2005, according to a Kansas City Business Journal article, Children's Wish International filed suit against a Kansas City accounting firm, alleging that accounting errors directly led to regulatory issues in three or more states.

In another case, detailed in a story published by Access North, the state of Florida filed suit against Children's Wish Foundation for misrepresentation in lieu of supplying toys and gifts to the homes of children in need. The suit named the foundation as having shortchanged children by stating it donated $415,000 worth of goods, while the 21 charities who were to accept the donations claimed they received nothing.

Class action lawsuits against charities or those affiliated with them are not uncommon in the U.S. In 2009, California levied a series of suits against charity fundraisers who, after raising funds from individuals, were accused of not forwarding those funds to legitimate charities. At the time, the state named 17 telemarketers and 12 other associated organizations in the suit.

Even charities can be found to be negligent in the services they provide to others. If you feel your charitable donation has either been taken dishonestly or is not being used for its intended purpose, there are legal avenues that may be pursued to correct the injustices.

Center for Investigative Reporting, "Class-action suit filed against charity ranked among nation's worst" Kendall Taggart, Oct. 07, 2013

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