Finally, Ken Dandar’s bizarre Florida court tug-of-war, which at one point had him facing a $1 million dollar judgment awarded to the Church of Scientology, has finally come to an end.
The Supreme Court of Florida declined yesterday to grant Scientology a petition to review the decision of an appellate court that reversed the million-dollar judgment, and so the case, which at one time had Dandar stuck between warring state and federal courts, is at an end.
“This frivolous matter is finally over. It has been 12 years, and before two judges, who never had jurisdiction,” Dandar told us after sharing with us the news of the court’s final order.
But even now he is cautious, and said he didn’t want to say more.
And can you blame him? The case had Dandar caught in a bizarre Catch-22 which Scientology then used to convince a retired judge that it should be awarded the million-dollar judgment, a judgment Dandar admitted at the time was likely to ruin him and his practice.
But he fought back with several different strategies, including the appeal which prevailed in March (and frankly, seemed like a longshot and stunned the hell out of us when it succeeded).
One more time, we’ll sum up how we got here:
It all goes back to 2004, when Dandar was involved in the settlement that ended a wrongful death lawsuit against the church brought by the family of Lisa McPherson, who Dandar was representing. Scientology claims that as part of that deal to end the lawsuit, Dandar promised never to bring another lawsuit against the church. But five years later, he did just that, helping Victoria Britton try to get her day in court over the disturbing death of her son, Kyle Brennan.
Dandar ended up in an utterly strange tug of war, with the original McPherson court telling him to drop his representation of Britton or be fined, and the federal court handling the Britton lawsuit telling Dandar he couldn’t abandon his client. And even though Dandar did eventually hand over Victoria’s lawsuit to someone else, the McPherson court fined him a million dollars for supposedly going against his 2004 agreement, payable to Scientology.
Got all that? It’s crazy, we know. Well, Dandar fought that judgment in numerous ways, all of which frankly seemed like longshots. But in March a Florida state appellate court decided that Scientology had gone about things wrong procedurally. Because the 2004 McPherson suit had been settled and dismissed, its court wasn’t in a position to award new damages, even if Dandar was in violation of the 2004 agreement. If Scientology believed that Dandar was in violation, the church should have initiated a new lawsuit, rather than try to revive a dismissed one. And so the appellate court wiped out the million-dollar judgment, much to Dandar’s relief.
Scientology then petitioned the state supreme court because Scientology always appeals everything. But yesterday, the state’s highest court put out a brief order saying that “the petition for review is denied,” and indicated that any request for a rehearing would be denied.
This bizarre and lengthy case is finally dead.
But, as the appellate court indicated when it wiped out the million-dollar judgment, Scientology’s mistake was only procedural. The court suggested that if Scientology wanted to pursue the matter further, it should file a new lawsuit accusing Dandar of being in violation of his 2004 agreement never to sue the church again.
There are good legal reasons why the church shouldn’t do that, our experts tell us. A new lawsuit would be on a completely different footing, and Dandar would be in a stronger position to defend himself. But futility has never been something that’s especially discouraged Scientology in the past.
We emailed Scientology’s attorney, Wally Pope, to ask if the church does plan to file such a lawsuit. We’ll let you know if he gets back to us.
For now, though, Ken Dandar can breathe a sigh of relief.
Here’s the brief document that ended this crazy case…
Louis Theroux talks Scientology on the Joe Rogan Experience
We really enjoyed this show, and not only because Louis was good enough to mention this website a couple of times. In advance of the theatrical debut for My Scientology Movie — which opens in September in Australia, October in the UK, and January in the US — Louis talks Scientology with Rogan, who has long had an interest in the subject.
It’s a conversation that ranges all over the place, but we enjoyed in particular Theroux’s description of the independent Scientology movement…
“It’s called the indie movement, independent Scientology…The problem with the independent movement is that, it turns out that if you remove the rather predatory money-raising side, and the sort of fundamentalist controlling side, you get something a bit wishy-washy that’s more or less indistinguishable from many other self-help creeds. It sort of loses its potency. It’s almost that the authoritarian dimension of Scientology and the way in which it demands total obedience from its followers is intrinsic to its ability to have an effect.”
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Our book, The Unbreakable Miss Lovely: How the Church of Scientology tried to destroy Paulette Cooper, is on sale at Amazon in paperback and Kindle editions. We’ve posted photographs of Paulette and scenes from her life at a separate location. Reader Sookie put together a complete index. More information about the book, and our 2015 book tour, can also be found at the book’s dedicated page.
Learn about Scientology with our numerous series with experts…
BLOGGING DIANETICS: We read Scientology’s founding text cover to cover with the help of L.A. 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
Other links: Shelly Miscavige, ten years gone | The Lisa McPherson story told in real time | The Cathriona White stories | The Leah Remini ‘Knowledge Reports’ | Hear audio of a Scientology excommunication | Scientology’s little day care of horrors | Whatever happened to Steve Fishman? | Felony charges for Scientology’s drug rehab scam | Why Scientology digs bomb-proof vaults in the desert | PZ Myers reads L. Ron Hubbard’s “A History of Man” | Scientology’s Master Spies | Scientology’s Private Dancer | The mystery of the richest Scientologist and his wayward sons | Scientology’s shocking mistreatment of the mentally ill | Scientology boasts about assistance from Google | The Underground Bunker’s Official Theme Song | The Underground Bunker FAQ
Our Guide to Alex Gibney’s film ‘Going Clear,’ and our pages about its principal figures…
Jason Beghe | Tom DeVocht | Sara Goldberg | Paul Haggis | Mark “Marty” Rathbun | Mike Rinder | Spanky Taylor | Hana Whitfield