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Ryan Hamilton files two new suits against Scientology’s drug rehab network — in California

Ryan Hamilton

Ryan Hamilton

Ryan Hamilton is branching out.

We’ve reported previously about the two federal fraud lawsuits the Las Vegas attorney has filed against Scientology’s drug rehab facility in Nevada. Now he’s filed two more — against a Scientology facility in San Diego County, California.

Angelo Amato of Illinois is suing the Narconon Fresh Start of Warner Springs after he went there for an addiction to Vicodin. He’s a mixed martial artist who became addicted to the pain pills and in December 2013 he searched the Internet for a rehab center. He found a site that had an 800 number and he called. The site claimed to be an “independent consultant.”

When he called, he spoke to Narconon’s Dan Carmichael.


Carmichael told him the usual thing we’re used to hearing about Narconon’s come-ons, that there would be medical staff on hand, that Amato would get drug counseling, that Narconon staff are trained in addiction treatment, and that the facility had a 76-percent success rate.

As in his previous lawsuits, Hamilton points out that the Narconon contract conceals Narconon’s connection to the Church of Scientology by, in part, altering the title of a book by L. Ron Hubbard.

Amato paid $31,000 up front and began a detox period, and found that he was being monitored not by doctors or nurses, but by a 19-year-old staff worker.

Told he would get his own room, when Amato got to Narconon he found he was asked to stay in a small room with three other men.

Amato then learned what everyone else does in the Narconon program — that it’s not drug counseling but instead the same courses that beginning Scientologists go through in the church, including making clay models to illustrate ideas, and also exercises that has students yelling at ashtrays.

Central to the program is the sauna use, which has students sitting in a sauna for hours each day, and taking extremely high doses of vitamins, all without medical supervision.

“Contrary to Narconon’s claims, there is no scientific evidence that its sauna program flushes residual drug toxins out of students’ fatty tissue. Nor is there any scientific evidence for Narconon’s premise underlying the sauna program: That residual drug toxins stored in fatty tissue leak into the bloodstream and cause drug cravings,” the complaint says.

As in the previous lawsuit, Hamilton quotes Narconon Georgia’s own expert witness in another case, a physician who doubted the effectiveness of the sauna program.

He also shows that former Narconon official Lucas Catton has evidence that the network’s own legal affairs officer admitted that Narconon’s claimed high rate of success has no scientific basis.

“Narconon routinely lies, misrepresents, and conceals the Narconon program’s connection to the practice of Scientology and to the Church of Scientology. Defendant directs employees at individual Narconon centers to deny any connection to the Church of Scientology even when patients’ family members specifically inquire about this point.”

Amato alleges that Narconon had made representations about insurance coverage which turned out not to be true. He was unhappy that his phone calls home were monitored. He didn’t like that he wasn’t getting any drug counseling, and he felt that the staff “were unfit to treat him.” So he asked to leave.

He’s suing for breach of contract, fraud, and negligence

The second suit is also brought against the Narconon Fresh Start in Warner Springs, by Christy and Branden Chavez, who live in New Mexico.

In June 2012, Christy wanted to find a rehab facility for her son Branden, who was 19 and struggling with a heroin addiction.

She also was referred by a website, and was asked to pay $33,000 up front. She was asked to pay $23,000 of that in cash money.

In most other ways, the Chavez lawsuit is similar to Amato’s.

We can see that Hamilton’s strategy is to file many lawsuits by separate plaintiffs, and he’s also targeting more than one Narconon center. That’s different than the class-action approach, which hit a snag in Georgia.

Here are the complaints in the two new lawsuits…


Amato v. Narconon Fresh Start: Complaint


Estrada v. Narconon Fresh Start: Complaint


A Friday for the ages

In case you weren’t with us yesterday, we just want to make sure you caught all the action. We had our usual Video Vault post for the morning, but then at the end of the day, we scrambled when we got the big news — Judge Dib Waldrip had denied Scientology’s ‘anti-SLAPP’ motion in Monique Rathbun’s harassment lawsuit against the church and its leader, David Miscavige. The church’s motion had upended the lawsuit over the past few months, but Waldrip finally killed it with a detailed 25-page order. As TX Lawyer pointed out in our comments, the church can appeal that decision, but that won’t keep the lawsuit from proceeding in the meantime.

A reminder: David Miscavige and the Religious Technology Center (RTC) have never accepted service in the lawsuit, filing instead what’s called a “special appearance” in which they argue the court has no jurisdiction over them. Monique’s side argued that in order to settle the question of whether the court does have jurisdiction over Miscavige in this lawsuit, she should get the chance to depose him. Judge Waldrip agreed with her, but Miscavige filed a petition to the Texas Third Court of Appeal. Monique should be filing her response to that petition soon, and on April 9 there will be a hearing for oral arguments. And again, that only pertains to Waldrip’s decision that Miscavige should be deposed.

In the meantime, in the main lawsuit, there’s still a sanctions order that Monique has filed for Waldrip to consider, and at some point we’re going to get back to the issue of converting a temporary restraining order to a temporary injunction. Remember, even though a lot of action has taken place in this lawsuit since it was filed in August, we’re still just in the preliminary phase of this thing. Stick with us as we navigate through the particulars.

Anyway, Friday was also notable because Marty Rathbun dropped another little bombshell at his website, revealing another internal document from Scientology’s spy corps, the Office of Special Affairs. In this case, it’s a fascinating look at the way Scientology gamifies evil — turning the stalking and destroying of perceived enemies into a quest for “points” to up your weekly “stats.”

Speaking of Rathbun, he’d shocked just about everyone with his stunning apology to Russell Miller the day before, after we’d posted our interview of the Bare-Faced Messiah author. (Was this a week, or what?)

And then late yesterday the other shoe dropped. Just minutes after we posted our big news about the anti-SLAPP denial, Joe Childs at the Tampa Bay Times posted his latest epic salvo of truth. When Sheldon and Sara Goldberg were expelled from Scientology last year, it was obvious there was a complex and heartbreaking story involved. And now, Joe Childs has gathered it up into a gut-wrenching story about disconnection, Scientology’s most toxic policy.

This was a story about how Scientology uses disconnection as “leverage” to enforce its Orwellian rules of “ethics,” and Joe has provided one of the best stories ever about that.

Now, what’s this week going to bring?


Posted by Tony Ortega on March 15, 2014 at 07:00

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Learn about Scientology with our numerous series with experts…

BLOGGING DIANETICS (We read Scientology’s founding text) 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25

UP THE BRIDGE (Claire Headley and Bruce Hines train us as Scientologists) 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43

GETTING OUR ETHICS IN (Jefferson Hawkins explains Scientology’s system of justice) 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14

SCIENTOLOGY MYTHBUSTING (Historian Jon Atack discusses key Scientology concepts) 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43

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