Scientologikirken saksøkt for bedrageri (manglende tilbakebetlinger)


#21

Rettsak i Canada

Ny sak, denne gangen fra British Columbia, Canada. En kvinne med navn Lorna Carlton vil ha tilbake 38 000 dollar (canadiske, antar jeg) hun har på konto for kurs hun ikke akter å ta, 5 000 hun har gitt til det lokale “Ideal Org”- prosjektet, 20 000 hun har donert til IAS og 20 000 for Scientologikirkens evindelige bok-kampanje. Til sammen er det 86 000 dollar (nesten 540 000 norske kroner).

I USA ville denne saken trolig vært dødfødt grunnet de sære reglene der, men Canada er en del av the Commonwealth, og har andre lover. Nok en sak som skal bli spennende å følge framover!

Tony Ortega:
http://tonyortega.org/2015/05/02/more-testimony-that-scientologys-celebrities-know-all-about-sea-org-deprivations/


#22

Dommer Whittmore har avvist klagen fra Garcias advokater der de hevder de aldri gikk med på at Scientologikirken er en religion. Det var strengt talt ventet, men det er usikkert hva som nå skjer. Gaercia kan anke til en høyere rettsinstans, han kan gå med på organisasjons latterlige “Com Ev”, eller de kan kaste inn håndkle.

Tony Ortega:
http://tonyortega.org/2015/05/16/jon-atack-when-the-militant-scientologist-falters-you-find-a-cowering-12-year-old-inside/#more-22673


#23

Nå, et år senere ser vi hva ekteparet Garcia har drevet med. I et år har de forhandlet med Scientologikrikens “International Justice terminal”, Mike Ellis om å få satt sammen en “meglingskommisjon”. I følge reglene Ellis la fram og dommer Whittemore godkjente, skal Garcia og Scientologikirken peke ut hver son representant, og disse skal så utpeke en tredje, og disse tre skal vurdere klagemålet. Problemet er at Garcia i henhold til Scientologikirkens regler kun kan velge ut en scientolog “in good standing”. Når har Garcia i nesten et år foreslått kandidater, som organisasjonen (ved Ellis) har avvist som uegnede (flere av dem er erklærte SP’er).

Nå kunne man naturligvis ha anklaget Garcia for å ha torpedert saken ved bare å bruke SP’er, men de har hentet alle bortsett fra to navn fra en liste organisasjonen selv har liggende ute under tittelen “Møt en scientolog”. Siden det tydleigvis er vanskelig å finne en scientologi “in good standing”, har Garcia bedt om en liste over alle scientologer “in good standing” (dvs medlemslista), men Ellis har nektet (vel vitende om hva hvilke enormt PR-nederlag en slik liste vil være). Han har istedet foreslått å sende en liste med egnede kandidater i Los Angeles-området, men Garcia har avslått, fordi de mener de skal kunne peke ut sin representant fritt. Etter å ha foreslått til sammen 45 forskjellige kandidater som alle er blitt avvist, har Garcias advokat Ted Babbitt, bedt dommer Whittemore om å gjenopta saken i rettsystemet.

Utdrag fra Babbitt’s henvendelse:

Tony Ortega: GARCIAS BACK IN COURT AFTER SCIENTOLOGY MAKES ARBITRATION IMPOSSIBLE, THEY SAY

Hele anmeldelsen (artig lesning):


CoS' bindende kontrakter: hvordan fungerer de?
#24

Tampa Bay Times: Former Scientologists tell federal judge: Church thwarted process to get money back


#25

Scientologikirken har svart, og mener det er Garcia som med vilje er vanskelige. De innrømmer imidlertid at ekteparet Garcia ikke kan henvende seg til scientologer “in good standing”, og vil heller ikke gi noen medlemsliste.

Kommentar fra TXlawyer hos Tony Ortega:

For good or ill, Judge Whittemore has already ruled that this case needs to go through arbitration before he can take a look at it. It’s good that the Garcias are attempting to expose the ludicrous, ad hoc procedures the church wants to apply, but it reads to me like they got a little too cute here. Reading their own brief a month or so ago, it was pretty clear that they were deliberately picking exes, which of course was never going to fly with the church or Judge Whittemore. If they ever want to have the court overturn the church’s eventual ruling, I think they should do a better job of playing by the church’s ludicrous rules. If they don’t play along, the church will just continue to blame their failures on the Garcias.

That said, the church’s brief here is already starting to show its vulnerabilities. The acknowledgment that the Garcias can’t even talk to their eligible arbitrators could be a very big deal down the line, as that affects basic concepts of fairness in the proceeding. And the church is already preemptively whining about the judge’s authority to appoint the arbitrators himself, which indicates they are aware that he still has some real ability to affect the arbitration.

I more or less expect the court to issue some sort of order taking control of the selection process, requiring the church to submit an appropriate list of eligible members to the Garcias, or requiring the Garcias to name someone from the people they contacted who the church now says are eligible. I don’t imagine the judge will just allow the case to continue languishing in procedural limbo. After the arbitration is over, he can take a look at the full record of the proceeding to decide whether it really passes muster as a legitimate arbitration system.

I also continue to think that the best move for the church here would be to have a hearing, award the Garcias a full or partial refund, then use that outcome as precedent for arbitration in future cases. They would be able to point to it as proof that everything is fair and claimants really can win refunds. Then, of course, the church would be free to zero out everybody else who elects to seek refunds through “arbitration.” I know returning money is anathema to these guys, but it really would be the smart long-term move for the church this time.


#26

Siste utvikling i Garcia-saken (6. aug. 2016):

Dommeren i Garcia saken har opprettholdt sitt vedtak om at Garcia må gå gjennom Scientologikirkens “religiøse megling” før ha kan se på saken på nytt.

Tony Ortega: So much for all that: Attempt by Garcias to revive Scientology lawsuit shot down by judge


#27

Det finnes ikke hermetegn store nok.


#28

Litt mer Garcia-nytt. Nå har dommeren James Whittemore fått nok av kranglingen:

Federal judge to Scientology: I’m taking over the arbitration, and it’s jail if you interfere

Two years after he ordered Luis and Rocio Garcia to submit to the Church of Scientology’s internal arbitration scheme, Tampa federal Judge James Whittemore has finally heard enough bickering by both sides and is taking matters into his own hands.

In an order he released yesterday after a status hearing on Friday, Judge Whittemore has given the Church of Scientology just two weeks to turn over to him the names and contact information for 500 Scientologists in good standing in the Los Angeles area. The judge will then personally choose three people from that list and secure their cooperation to act as arbitrators. And he warned that if he catches either side contacting or responding to the three people he selects, he will hand out sanctions — which could include jail time.

Can you imagine, a federal judge calling up a Los Angeles Scientologist and asking them to sit on an arbitrating panel, and telling them not to contact the church about it?

Good luck on that one, judge.

This is the latest crazy development in a fraud lawsuit that the Garcias, an Irvine couple, filed in the Tampa court in 2013, alleging that they had been lied to and defrauded when they turned over hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations during their careers as church members. Scientology argued that the Garcias had signed contracts which required them to take any disputes to an internal arbitration process. And despite evidence from top former church officials that the procedures described in those contracts were shams designed to keep people from getting refunds, and despite the church’s own admission that it actually had no arbitration guidelines and had never, in its decades-long history, ever actually held an arbitration, Judge Whittemore ordered that the Garcias submit to the process, citing his inability to interfere with Scientology’s internal matters because of its religious protections under the First Amendment.

[…]


#29

Scientologiorganisasjonen har endelig disket opp med 500 telefonnumre, som krevd av dommer Whittemore:

Scientology forks over phone numbers to federal judge, who puts his foot down again

On May 1, Tampa federal Judge James Whittemore gave the Church of Scientology just ten days to turn over the phone numbers and occupations of 500 Los Angeles-area Scientologists whose names the church had previously turned in to the court under seal. It’s been more than a week since that deadline passed, and now we have evidence that the church did comply.

We learned that the church met the deadline from a footnote in a new order that Judge Whittemore issued Thursday, in which he reinforced just how much he’s taken control of a case that has fascinated us since it was first filed as a federal fraud lawsuit by a California couple, Luis and Rocio Garcia, back in January 2013.

The Garcias say they were lied to and defrauded by the church in order to convince them to turn over hundreds of thousands of dollars for a building project. But in 2015 Judge Whittemore ruled that membership contracts signed by the Garcias required them to submit their grievances to an internal Scientology arbitration process, and he stayed the lawsuit. Since then the Garcias and the church have been unable to agree on a set of three arbitrators to hear the matter, who according to Scientology must be church members in good standing. Whittemore became fed up with the two sides fighting over the process and decided to step in. He asked Scientology to submit an application that would give him the power to choose the arbitrators, and ordered the church to turn over the list of 500 Scientologists.

In a hearing last month, Scientology’s attorney, Wally Pope, appeared to agree with the idea that Whittemore would choose all three arbitrators. But by the time the church came back with its list of church members in good standing, it argued in a new motion that the judge should only choose one arbitrator, for the Garcias, and the church would take care of the other two. The church also insisted that it should contact any church members on behalf of the court, and did not turn over any phone numbers.

[…]


#30

Foto: TonyOrtega.org

Scientologikirken virker ikke videre begeistret over tanken om en dommer som ringer opp scientologer ut av det blå, så nå oppfordrer de dommeren til å revurdere, skriver Tony Ortega:

Can you imagine? You’re a paranoid, indoctrinated, and fully frightened Scientologist, already dreading the next visit or phone call from church vultures who want you to donate more, more, more, and out of the blue you get a phone call from Florida and it’s supposed to be some judge asking you to sit in judgment of the church and not tell anyone about it.

Does that have Xenuriffic disaster written all over it or what?

The church sure seems to think so.

Defendants have expressed to the Court their concerns that direct contact to Scientology parishioners from a civil court about Scientology justice proceedings may cause alarm of such individuals, who did not assume their identities and contact information would be disclosed to a court without notice, as well as about the practical problems that may arise from this process. It also raises ecclesiastical questions, because parishioners may raise questions about such contacts with appropriate Church officials. Indeed, it is possible parishioners may decline to discuss the matter until contacting such persons.

Det er også verdt å merke seg at blant de 500 navnene organisasjonen har gitt til dommer Whittemore befinner det seg flere “offisielle”, altså personer med høyere stillinger i scientologiorganisasjonen. En skulle jo tro, skriver Ortega, at en “kirke” med flere millioner medlemmer skulle klare å finne 500 vanlige medlemmer?

Organisasjonens advokat, Wally Pope, leverte også et utkast til et brev de foreslår at dommer Whittemore benytter når han kontakter scientologer.


#31

Så, hva har skjedd og hva skjer? Det er nok på sin plass med en liten oppsummering.

Garcia-ene har, siden saken startet i 2013, argumentert for at scientologiorganisasjonen manipulerer sine egne medlemmer for å få kloa i donasjoner. Organisasjonen, derimot, påpeker at Garcia-ene har signert kontrakter, og forplikter å bruke organisasjonens interne “mekling” hvis de vil klage.

Dommer Whittemore sa seg enig med organisasjonen i 2015, at man burde bruke den interne meklingen, men de to partene har ikke vært i stand til å sette sammen et meklingspanel, som skal bestå av tre scientologer i såkalt “good standing”.

Whittemore ga derfor ordre om at scientologiorganisasjonen skulle gi ham ei liste over 500 scientologer, slik at han kan plukke meklere selv.

Dette falt ikke i god jord hos organisasjonen. En dommer som ringer scientologer ut av det blå, uten at de kan dirigere og instruere dem? En oppskrift på trøbbel! De har, derfor, argumentert heftig for at “vanlige scientologer” vil vegre seg mot å bli blandet inn i en slik sak, i alle fall om en dommer de ikke kjenner ringer dem.

Nå argumenterer Garcia-ene for at denne vegringen viser at meklingen er en løgn, og at dommer Whittemore bør ignorere klagene fra organisasjonen, slik at sannheten kommer frem.

Tony Ortega har mer om saken her.