The Garcias say they were defrauded by Scientology when it pressured them to donate hundreds of thousands of dollars in building projects, but since their lawsuit was first filed in January last year, it’s run into numerous technical roadblocks.
The Garcias first had to win a mini-trial in Tampa when Scientology tried to disqualify their attorneys. They then had to deal with a jurisdictional challenge that put the case on hold for months and eventually resulted in the Garcias dismissing three of Scientology’s entities from the lawsuit.
But then Scientology filed another motion to dismiss, saying that the way the Garcias got past that last hurdle was improperly done. They accused the couple of playing some legal sleight of hand with their latest amended complaint in order to deal with the jurisdictional problems.
But now Judge Whittemore has ruled for the Garcias, saying that the couple’s amended complaint can proceed against two Scientology entities, and that they have met the minimum amount of damages to qualify for federal court. Whittemore also denied Scientology the chance to make an interlocutory appeal to a higher court. It’s a complete victory for the Garcias on this motion.
We’re still waiting for Whittemore to rule on the other big question in the preliminary phase of this lawsuit, and that’s Scientology’s motion to have the Garcias forced into arbitration and dismiss the case from federal court. Scientology argues that the dispute is a religious and internal matter which shouldn’t be the subject of a civil court. The Garcias say the case has nothing to do with religion, and that Scientology should not be able to force them into internal arbitration, which would be inherently unfair to them.
We’re still waiting for Whittemore to rule on that. But in the meantime, here’s his decision on the jurisdictional matter…
If you’re keeping score at home, Scientology has now tried numerous ways to derail this lawsuit, but what it hasn’t done yet is actually answer the allegations the Garcias have raised.
Posted by Tony Ortega on July 25, 2014 at 15:25
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