Hamilton began filing his lawsuits in February, and limited them to cases in California, Nevada, and Colorado. They follow a pattern which grew more robust over the year — they accuse Narconon of running a deceptive scam that advertises drug counseling and instead delivers Scientology training.
Hamilton this week filed a federal fraud lawsuit against Narconon Gulf Coast in the Florida panhandle town of Destin. The facility recently changed its name to “Blu by the Sea,” one of numerous name changes by Scientology rehab centers as they try to get away from the embattled name “Narconon.”
Hamilton and a local attorney, Jeffrey M. Stephens, filed the suit on behalf of Florida resident Lucy Guidotti. The complaint says that Guidotti was looking for information on rehab facilities in March 2013 when she ran across a website named gulfcoastdrugrehab.com that made several claims: Its facility had a better than 90 percent success rate, its sauna program could eliminate drug cravings, and patients received individualized drug counseling. (In other words, the usual pitch from Narconon centers.)
When Lucy called, she was told by Deborah Ross and her son Christopher that the rehab center employed “highly-trained specialists” with “degrees in psychiatry.” (For a place associated with the virulently anti-psychiatry Scientology, that’s a pretty surprising claim.) Guidotti was also told she’d be under supervision of medical professionals. Based on those promises, she paid $40,000 up front for treatment.
Like others who go to Narconon, Guidotti soon found that those promises had little to do with what actually goes on at Narconon. Instead, she received Scientology training and Scientology’s unscientific theories about its sauna program…
Narconon’s rationale for the sauna program is that residue of many different types of drug remain in the body’s fatty tissue long after use. The drug residue is released from the fatty tissue from time-to-time into the bloodstream causing the individual to crave the drug, and, ultimately, relapse. Gulf Coast represented to Lucy that its sauna program would flush residual drug toxins out of her system and thereby reduce or eliminate the drug cravings the residue causes.
Hamilton then includes evidence from other lawsuits that show Narconon is aware that its theories are unscientific and that their claims are deceptive, but that it’s part of Scientology’s attempts to recruit new members.
Lucy was forced to leave the Gulf Coast program early because of health problems the sauna program, i.e., the Purification Rundown was causing her. She received none of the treatment she had been promised and for which she had paid more than $40,000.00. Lucy continues dealing with physical and emotional problems due to her time at Gulf Coast.
Here’s the complaint…
In other Ryan Hamilton news, there’s been a lot of court action as judges around the country react to his attempt to consolidate the cases in one federal courthouse in Nevada. There have been many decisions whether or not to stay cases while that works out, and other matters, and most of them aren’t worth singling out at the moment. But two court orders we are going to note: One that went against Hamilton and one that went for him.
In the Brown lawsuit, federal Judge Michael Anello granted Narconon’s motion to dismiss the claim Hamilton had made based on the Federal Wiretap Act. (Narconon had recorded two phone calls made by the plaintiff, Sherri Brown, without her consent.) Although the judge dismissed this claim, he didn’t rule on the lawsuit’s other claims, which are based on state law. So Hamilton will be able to refile the lawsuit in state court, and our legal experts expect that he will.
In the Tarr case, however, Narconon’s motion to dismiss was denied, including Narconon’s objection to Hamilton’s claim for the intentional infliction of emotional distress. Judge Gloria M. Navarro found that each of the lawsuit’s claims were stated sufficiently that they could be presented to a jury. And her words about the intentional infliction of emotional distress claim should be a pretty scary wake-up call for Scientology in these lawsuits going forward…
In the instant case, Plaintiffs allege that Narconon deliberately sought out individuals who were suffering from drug addictions and deceived their families into enrolling them in a false “drug rehabilitation program” which, in actuality, existed for the sole purpose of converting these individuals to Scientology when they were most vulnerable. While it remains a question of fact to be resolved by the jury, the Court finds that a reasonable person could certainly conclude that it was “outside all possible bounds of decency” for Narconon to attempt to indoctrinate Michael Tarr into the Church of Scientology in lieu of helping him overcome his heroin addiction. Therefore, the Court finds that Plaintiffs have sufficiently alleged that Narconon’s conduct was extreme and outrageous.
Now that’s a judge who gets it.
Judge Whittemore to Scientology: No, you can’t keep Mike Rinder out
Early in January, Luis and Rocio Garcia will get a chance to depose Scientology’s “International Justice Chief” Mike Ellis in their federal fraud lawsuit against the church, in preparation for a February 18 mini-trial at the Tampa federal courthouse.
Scientology had hoped to bar former Scientology spokesman Mike Rinder, who has been working as a consultant and expert witness for the Garcias, from that deposition.
But Judge James D. Whittemore shows once again that he’s a stickler for detail as he denies Scientology’s request on what looks like purely procedural minutiae. Well, whatever the reason, the point is Rinder will get a chance to help out the Garcia legal team as they try to take apart Ellis under oath.
Scientology’s 2014 in review: March saw the return of ‘Bare-Faced Messiah’
As March began, John Travolta gave us a treat during the Oscars broadcast by badly mangling Idina Menzel’s name so that it came out “Adele Dazeem.”
“‘Idina Menzel’ must translate into something else in Thetan,” the Hollywood Reporter quipped.
Tired of clueless media interviews of Scientology celebrities, on March 10 we tried to educate fellow journalists about how to retrieve a church member’s history of courses — which should have led to better questions for Elisabeth Moss, for example.
On March 11, we reported that Judge Ronald Sohigian had decided to retire, which threw something of a monkey wrench into Laura DeCrescenzo’s forced abortion lawsuit. Several judge changes later, and the civil trial in her suit is finally scheduled for December 7, 2015.
Two days later, we had a big announcement: Silvertail Books was republishing Russell Miller’s 1987 biography of L. Ron Hubbard, Bare-Faced Messiah, for our money the single best book ever written on Scientology. And to mark the occasion, we had an interview with Miller himself.
On March 14, we learned that Comal County, Texas Judge Dib Waldrip had denied Scientology’s ‘anti-SLAPP’ motion in Monique Rathbun’s harassment lawsuit against the church. This was a big victory for Monique, but the church appealed, and we’re still waiting to hear if the Texas Third Court of Appeals is going to uphold Judge Waldrip’s decision.
Meanwhile, our series about Scientology’s secret ‘technology’ — “Up the Bridge” — continued, and by March 19 we’d reached New Operating Thetan Level Seven. Yes, we know we’re still one final installment short to finish the series, and we hope to have it soon.
On March 25 we learned that Vance Woodward was suing Scientology over his experiences as a member for more than 20 years. His suit was eventually dismissed later in the year, but he’s filed a motion to reconsider and hasn’t given up yet.
It was also in March when we learned the pretty amazing story of Jillian Schlesinger, who had literally had to escape from Scientology’s Sea Org, and then was talking publicly only weeks later. She told us her escape tale, and it was riveting.
Posted by Tony Ortega on December 23, 2014 at 07:00
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