The Diabetes Foundation of Mississippi (DFM) has won its court battle with the American Diabetes Association (ADA), which means the DFM will be able to retain its office and other assets used to help people with diabetes in Mississippi.
DFM was sued by the ADA after the Mississippi group voted to disaffiliate with ADA following a decision to disband the state diabetes’ corporations in favor of one national corporation.
“The importance of the decision is that we are going to be able to continue to serve Mississippians with diabetes,” said Mary Fortune, executive vice president of the DFM. “The money that has been raised by Mississippi volunteers can continue to service Mississippians instead of people in other states.”
DFM attorney Alan Perry said U.S. District Court Judge Tom Lee ruled that the contract between DFM and the ADA clearly stated that the assets belong to the local corporation.
“I think the main thing is it didn’t make sense to export the money people gave in Mississippi out of state,” Perry said. “We need it here. People here are generous, but the needs here are big.”
Mississippi has the lowest per capita income in the country and the highest rate of diabetes. Fortune said the ADA merger was meant to shore up some chapters around the country that were struggling. But she contended this penalized the DFM, which has been fiscally responsible.
“We didn’t feel giving up the Mississippi corporate status, sending any money we subsequently raised out of state and dissolving our board of directors would serve Mississippians with diabetes,” Fortune said. “We just feel like we want local control. It would be like the government coming in and saying there are no more state boundaries for Mississippi.”
DFM was affiliated with ADA since 1983, sending 34% of what was raised in Mississippi to the national office. This court decision clears the way for DFM to return to its original independent status.
There are an estimated 240,000 Mississippians with diabetes and 80,000 are undiagnosed. Complications of diabetes can include heart disease, strokes, amputations, kidney failure and blindness. The annual direct and indirect costs of diabetes in Mississippi are estimated at $1.5 billion.