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Columbia U. Wins Dismissal of Lawsuit Over Italian-Studies Center

The Italic Institute of America sued Columbia University last summer, alleging that programs at La Casa Italiana, or “The Italian House,” ran counter to the intent of donors who gave the university $400,000 in 1927 to build the house. The institute’s complaint alleged that some programs at the center were deficient in serious scholarship about Italian-American history. But Judge Marcy S. Friedman of the New York State Supreme Court rejected the lawsuit, ruling that the institute didn’t have standing to bring the complaint.

“To the extent that Italic Institute and the proposed plaintiffs claim standing as beneficiaries of the trust, they fail to plead allegations that they fall within a ‘sharply defined and limited’ class of potential beneficiaries entitled to a preference in the use of the trust,” Friedman said.

The Italian house was donated for Columbia’s use “on behalf of and in the name of the people of Italian birth and descent in the United States of America and other American citizens who are interested in the diffusion of Italian culture in this country,” according to the original donation document cited in the ruling.

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