Case Details


Attorney General's Authority Over Charities.

Filing State



Ohio Court of Appeals




State ex rel. Petro v. Cincinnati, 2007 Ohio 1858 (Ohio App. 2007)


Attorney General had standing to enforce a charitable trust, and did not need to name all beneficiaries of the trust.

Case Description

The Attorney General of Ohio brought suit against a foundation formed to care for a cemetery in Cincinnati and the city of Cincinnati, seeking restitution, removal of the directors, and other injunctive relief. After the Attorney General reached a settlement under which the directors resigned and the foundation was dissolved, the trial court dismissed all parties except the city of Cincinnati and declared that title to the cemetery was vested in the city. The city appealed on grounds that, among other things, “the attorney general did not have standing to bring the action in the first instance because the state was not a person for purposes of declaratory judgment, and because the state was not the real party in interest in the action.” The Court of Appeals held that the attorney general was “beyond dispute a person” as described by the state’s declaratory judgment act, and that “the attorney general, as the enforcer of charitable trusts, was uniquely empowered in this case to institute a proceeding involving [the cemetery] and to bring the action in his own name or in the name of the state.” The Attorney General did not need to name all plot holders as parties because, “The essence of a charitable trust “lies in the indefiniteness of the charitable trust beneficiaries,” so the attorney general has no duty to attempt to further define other beneficiaries of a charitable trust. Instead, the attorney general himself must represent the class of indefinite beneficiaries of the charitable trust in a declaratory-judgment action.”