According to USCS Fed Rules Civ Proc R 17, unincorporated associations have the right to sue in their own names for the enforcement of rights existing under the Constitution or laws of the United States.[i] In the absence of an enabling statute, an unincorporated association cannot sue or be sued in the organization’s own name because an unincorporated association is not a legal entity.[ii] However, even in the absence of an enabling statute, an unincorporated association may be sued as an entity on its contractual obligations. Moreover, it is well settled that labor unions have the right to sue in a representative capacity.[iii] If a party fails to raise the question of an association’s capacity to sue or be sued, it is considered a waiver of the objection. The opposing party cannot raise such an objection for the first time on appeal.
[i] Joint Anti-Fascist Refugee Committee v. McGrath, 341 U.S. 123 (U.S. 1951)
[ii] Brown v. United States, 276 U.S. 134 (U.S. 1928)
[iii] Tenants Ass’n of Park Santa Anita v. Southers, 222 Cal. App. 3d 1293 (Cal. App. 2d Dist. 1990)