The Figure It Cuts In a Suit for Heavy Damages.
Dr. Nicholas Russel came out victorious in his preliminary legal tilt yesterday with Bishop Vladimir of the Russian Church.
Russel is a practicing physician and was a member of the Russian Church and several Graeco-Russian benevolent societies. In the yearly part of last year the ill-feeling between the Bishop and Russel came to a head, and Russel was expelled from the church and excommunicated. In turn he brought a $50,000 damage suit against Vladimir.
According to the complaint Bishop Vladimir openly charged him with living with another woman without obtaining a divorce by leave of the church and with having basely deserted his first family.
Russel claimed that many members of the church who were his friends and patrons refused to associate with him or to employ him on account of these charges, while the devotees of the church hold him in horror after the excommunication.
Bishop Vladimir yesterday demurred to the complaint on the grounds that under the guise of an action for slander Russel was suing for damages for excommunication from the church. After hearing the argument Judge Hunt said: "I do not think this action well taken. The reference to the ban in the pleading is only made the basis for the recovery of special damages. It is claimed that the excommunication of Russel resulted from, and was incident to, a false and malicious charge that he had neglected his family and was living with another woman. The damages properly incident to such a charge were, it is claimed, augmented by Russels excommunication from the church, loss of membership in his society and the estrangement of his friends and patrons.
"The demurrer is overruled, and the Bishop is allowed ten days to answer the complaint."
Yesterday Edward Myers, guardian ad litem for Boris Levin, a minor, sued Bishop Vladimir to recover $1,090, claimed to be due for money received by the defendant for the use of the plaintiff, and for two years services.
Levin, who is a bright and intelligent young Russian, nearly twenty years old, of Jewish parentage, states that about three years ago, while at the home of his parents in Russia, Vladimir, commonly known as Basil Sokolowsky, persuaded the lad to accompany him to California, holding out the promise that he would have him educated for the priesthood. There were twenty boys in the party who came with the bishop at the time. The Russian Government allowed the Bishop 800 rubles for each boy whom he brought with him to defray the cost of the trip and expenses incident to their education. Young Levin alleges that he has received no education whatever, but that he was employed by the Bishop as a servant for two years, at the end of which time the Bishop sent him to Killisno, Alaska, there to promulgate the Greek-Catholic faith among the natives, promising to send him money for expenses. But the money never came, and the youth, after waiting patiently for almost a year and being almost on the brink of starvation, managed to return to this city and laid his complaint before the Bishop, who, however, refused to receive the young man, refused to compensate him for his two years services, his outlay while in Alaska and expelled him from the church.
The San Francisco Examiner, Saturday, May 16, 1891, p. 5:4