Las Vegas attorney Ryan Hamilton has filed his 27th lawsuit against Scientology’s drug rehab network, Narconon, and Jeffrey P. Ray, an attorney in Michigan, has added two of his own in just a week’s time.
Endorsed by Scientology’s most well-known celebrities, such as Tom Cruise and Kirstie Alley, Narconon was for many years one of the organization’s most reliable money-makers. But recent patient deaths, negative press attention, and lawsuits around the country have turned Narconon into one of Scientology’s biggest headaches.
Unprotected by the religious cloaking that has proved so effective for Scientology itself, Narconon is vulnerable because it advertises one thing (individualized drug counseling with medical professionals and sky-high success rates) and delivers quite another (Scientology training with no medical personnel on hand and no proof of high success rates).
That’s opened the door for Ryan Hamilton, who began filing lawsuits against Narconon facilities in Nevada, California, and Colorado a year ago. Recently, he branched out to Florida. And now, he’s filed another lawsuit, and it’s in a new location: He’s suing a facility in Louisiana, the New Life Retreat in Denham Springs, with the help of local attorney Patrick W. Pendley.
Their client, Jeannette McHenry of Washington State, was looking for a rehab program for her son Alexander last February when she found a website that advertised an 800 number. When she called it she spoke to a person who put her in touch with a man named Jeff Gordon representing New Life Retreat.
She got the usual Narconon pitch: Gordon claimed the program had a 76-percent success rate, that her son would get addiction counseling, and that the facility’s sauna program was scientific and would eliminate her son’s drug cravings by detoxifying.
Jeannette paid $27,000 up front for her son to enter the program, borrowing money from family and from a bank.
And then, like others who enter the program, Alexander found out that instead of drug counseling he would be getting Scientology training.
As in his other lawsuits, Hamilton brings in detailed descriptions of what he’s found in other legal cases against Narconon — admissions that its processes aren’t as effective as they claim, for example.
No one at NLR ever spoke to Plaintiff’s son about the specifics of his life or substance abuse issues. Each patient at NLR received the exact same “treatment” regardless of the drug the person abused and the etiology and the severity of the patient’s addiction. At NLR, Plaintiff’s son did not receive any of the treatment Plaintiff had been promised and for which Plaintiff paid a ssubstantial sum of money. Instead, he received only Scientology indoctrination and dangerous Scientology rituals.
Meanwhile, attorney Jeff Ray has filed two lawsuits against Narconon Freedom Center in Albion, Michigan — the most recent just yesterday.
In that lawsuit, Joshua Currey of West Virginia alleges that on October 3, 2011, he found Narconon Freedom Center’s website, which claimed a success rate of 70 percent and described its sauna program. Currey called the facility and spoke to Ryan Daniels, telling him that he wanted his health insurance to pay for the program.
Currey alleges that he was told he’d need to pay $15,000 up front, and that the program would get pre-authorization from his insurance plan to cover the program. While he was “detoxing,” however, Currey suffered from a kidney stone. The center still wanted his up-front payment of $15,000 but Currey objected, saying that pre-authorization from his insurance program still hadn’t been obtained.
In great pain from the kidney stone and pressured to sign credit card authorization forms, Currey relented, and the center charged the $15,000 to credit cards the facility had obtained for him.
Then, his insurance denied coverage because he hadn’t gotten the pre-authorization he’d been asking the rehab center to obtain.
“Plaintiff has been unable to make the payments on the credit cards NFC obtained for him. Plaintiffs credit score has dropped over 200 points,” the suit alleges.
And, like other Narconon patients, Currey learned that instead of drug counseling, he’d be receiving Scientology training.
The lawsuit contains much of the same material about Narconon’s connection to Scientology that we’ve seen in Ryan Hamilton’s suits. Just as Narconon International makes sure all of is rehab facilities follow L. Ron Hubbard’s “technology” to the letter, so lawsuits against Narconon centers can easily be standardized as well. And the reason behind it is simply that Narconon doesn’t deliver what it promises.
No one at NFC ever spoke to Plaintiff about the specifics of his life or his problems with addiction. Instead, NFC purported to treat Plaintiff with the standardized Narconon program. Plaintiff left NFC within a short period of time because the “treatment” he was being provided did not appear safe and bore no resemblance to what he had been promised. At NFC, Plaintiff did not receive any of the treatment he had been promised and for which Plaintiff paid a substantial sum of money. Instead, Plaintiff received only Scientology indoctrination.
Just a week before, Jeff Ray filed another lawsuit against the Albion facility on behalf of a young woman, Lauren Prevec, who makes similar allegations about what she was promised at Narconon Freedom Center and then experienced during her 2012 stay there.
But Prevec also alleges that her “detox” to start the program deprived her of the anti-depressant medicine she was prescribed. (Scientology has a virulent hatred of psychiatry and any drugs associated with it.)
Narconon makes promises about providing a safe, drug-free environment. But like we’ve seen in other lawsuits, Prevec found a very different reality at NFC: “During Lauren’s time at NFC she observed NFC staff members engage in romantic relationships with patients. During Lauren’s time at NFC drugs were regularly brought into the facility.”
Like the others, Lauren is suing because ultimately she didn’t get what she’d paid for.
On or about July 3, 2012, Plaintiff was suspended from NFC because she tested positive for marijuana. Plaintiff did not return to the facility because the treatment at NFC bore no resemblance to what Plaintiffs had been promised. At NFC, Lauren did not receive any of the treatment Plaintiffs had been promised and for which Plaintiffs paid a substantial sum of money. Instead, Lauren received only Scientology indoctrination.
Before Jeff Ray filed these two lawsuits, we had previously reported on another case he’d handled, which also involved Narconon Freedom Center. It involved a man named Richard Teague, who was seriously wounded at the facility, and who talked to us after his lawsuit was settled.
Now, Ray is taking a page from Hamilton and he’s rapidly filed two lawsuits which use much of the same evidence that was first dug up by yet another attorney, Jeff Harris in Georgia. And there’s another firm in Illinois which has filed three suits against Narconon centers there on much the same model.
We sense a trend.
Jeannette McHenry v. Narconon Louisiana New Life Center (Ryan Hamilton and Patrick W. Pendley)
Joshua Currey v. Narconon Freedom Center (Jeff Ray)
Lauren, Jannette, and Frank Prevec v. Narconon Freedom Center (Jeff Ray)
Oklahoma hits back at Kim Poff and Michael DeLong
We’ve been following the explosive allegations made by two former Oklahoma state employees who say they were fired because they found wrongdoing at Scientology’s flagship drug rehab facility, Narconon Arrowhead, and recommended that it be shut down, but their superiors buried the report because they were afraid of taking on the church.
Now, the state has filed motions to dismiss in both lawsuits. The motions call Poff and DeLong’s allegations “baseless,” and assert that even if they had found wrongdoing at Narconon Arrowhead, the department would still have discretion what to do about it and might not decide to revoke Narconon Arrowhead’s license.
We’ll be interested in what the Bunker’s readers in the legal field will have to say about the case law that’s cited in the motions. Give us your analysis!
Bonus photos from our tipsters
It’s Shrek Night at the fundraiser in Budapest! Our thanks to Peter Bonyai for sending these in. He says that in the second photo, the man in the black hat is Tamás Nagy, executive director of the Budapest org, and he’s surrounded by OT 7s and 8s…
Our thanks to Tory Christman, who sent us this photo taken inside the new Hollywood Life Improvement Center — formerly known as the Hollywood Test Center/Christie Hotel/Hollywood Inn — which has finally opened up after we pointed out not long ago that it had fallen into pre-foreclosure following a renovation…
One of our tipsters pointed out that there’s a bizarre story today at the website of the East Grinstead Courier. East Grinstead, England is the home to Scientology UK headquarters and L. Ron Hubbard’s former estate, Saint Hill Manor. The local town has always had an uneasy relationship with the church, and back in the late 1960s it practically broke out in a local war. But the Courier has posted a really strange item. Titled “What is Scientology and what do Scientologists believe?” the unbylined story reads like pure Scientology marketing pablum. However, it’s interspersed with embedded videos which aren’t flattering to Scientology at all — including the Forrest Ackerman interview we posted recently. What gives?
Thanks again to MissCandle for posting this morning’s USA Today full-page ad in our comments section…
Another Clear in Tampa!
The glamorous Meghan Fialkoff presenting Foundation for a Drug-Free World info to a New York City Community Board. Who knew New Yorkers were such patsies?
Another happy customer in Tampa!
Scientologists are using social media more than ever. Drop us a line if you spot them posting images to Instagram or Facebook!
3 days until Alex Gibney’s film Going Clear: Scientology & the Prison of Belief opens at the Sundance Film Festival at 2:30 pm on Sunday, January 25 in Park City, Utah
Posted by Tony Ortega on January 22, 2015 at 07:00
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Learn about Scientology with our numerous series with experts…
BLOGGING DIANETICS: We read Scientology’s founding text cover to cover with the help of LA attorney and former church member Vance Woodward
UP THE BRIDGE: Claire Headley and Bruce Hines train us as Scientologists
GETTING OUR ETHICS IN: Jefferson Hawkins explains Scientology’s system of justice
SCIENTOLOGY MYTHBUSTING: Historian Jon Atack discusses key Scientology concepts