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This question Is normally illegal kink legal inspired me to ask this.

The Metro Vancouver Kink Society is getting sued. In a short summary of events, one member of MVKS was accused of acting inappropriately and was officially shunned from the community. In retaliation, he sued the MVKS. Now that there's a lawsuit, many people who wanted to remain anonymous are now known to be part of the MVKS.

How can a non-profit community based group even get sued?

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  • This is really three different questions, and should be asked as such. VTC until they are separated.
    – Nij
    Aug 23 '20 at 10:52
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    What makes you think that in order to be sued one needs to be making profit?
    – Greendrake
    Aug 23 '20 at 12:36
  • @Greendrake where else would the money come from? Aug 23 '20 at 21:41
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    The same place as the money they use to pay other expenses of the organization.
    – Barmar
    Aug 23 '20 at 21:58
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From their website:

Metro Vancouver Kink is an incorporated, non-profit society.

That is, they are a corporation and corporations are legal people, capable of suing and being sued just like natural people are.

The lawsuit alleges defamation which a corporate entity can do by making untrue statements that damage someone’s reputation. Based on the linked article, I can’t see that this is “retaliation”; the statements made are, if untrue, almost certainly defamatory and the defamed person is legally entitled to be “made whole” as far as possible.

Incorporation is a method of shielding the members of the corporation from the corporations liabilities, legal or otherwise. From the article, it appears the allegedly defamed person is also suing the directors of the corporation - directors are usually legally shielded unless they have breached their duties as directors.

One final point, not-for-profit entities still make profits or losses (called surpluses and deficits) and holds assets and liabilities just like a for profit business. Indeed an entity must at least break even over the long term if it wants to survive and make surpluses if it wants to grow. The difference is that a non-profit cannot return those surpluses to its members the way a company can; it has to use them for the purposes for which it was established or for defending lawsuits or paying out damages.

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To expand a bit on Dale's answer, being able to sue or be sued is actually often the primary reason that not-for-profit or even for-profit organizations choose to incorporate.

By incorporating, the organization becomes a separate legal entity for the purpose of lawsuits (and liability for debts and such.) This provides a considerable degree of protection to the assets of the individual members, as most lawsuits would have to sue the organization for acts conducted on its behalf rather than suing the individual members. Thus, damages (and payment of debt) in many cases are limited to the assets of the organization itself and the personal assets of individual members are not at risk.

Of course, there are limits to the protections afforded to individual members of an incorporated entity and those limits will vary by jurisdiction.

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    Apparently correct in Canada Varjacic v. Radoja (Ontario Superior Court of Justice, decided March 2018). gwvlaw.com/blog/2018/05/…. In most U.S. states, unincorporated associations have standing to sue and be sued.
    – ohwilleke
    Aug 24 '20 at 23:06

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