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Ted Babbitt’s gambit: Recasting the Garcia federal fraud lawsuit against Scientology

Luis and Rocio Garcia

Luis and Rocio Garcia

After several months delay in the federal fraud lawsuit that Luis and Rocio Garcia brought against the Church of Scientology, the Garcias have filed a surprising new motion: They’re dropping three defendants from the suit and asking Judge James Whittemore for the right to amend their original complaint.

If you remember our previous reporting on this lawsuit, you know that late last year it hit a snag. More than nine months after the suit was originally filed in January 2013, Scientology notified the court that the Garcias had committed a basic error. The Garcias had sued in federal court in Florida, even though the Garcias themselves and the trustees of some of the Scientology entities they were suing live in California. This appeared to violate a legal concept known as “diversity jurisdiction,” and Scientology asked to have the case dismissed.

The Garcias cried foul, complaining to Judge Whittemore that it had taken so long for Scientology to bring up the California residency of the trustees. If you recall, the case had already been through a motion to disqualify the attorneys working for the Garcias (it failed, but not until after an evidentiary hearing), racking up lots of costs. The Garcias asked for time to do discovery so they could check the facts — they weren’t just going to accept Scientology’s word about the location of its trustees.

Now, several months later, with that homework accomplished, the Garcias are apparently ready to admit that three of the entities they sued — USIMT, CSRT, and IASA — should be let out of the suit.

But rather than fold altogether, their attorney Ted Babbitt tells Judge Whittemore that the investigating they did only made it more clear that the real culprit in soliciting money from the Garcias under fraudulent means was committed by the Flag Service Organization, a Scientology entity that runs its “spiritual mecca” in Clearwater.

Upon completion of recent discovery, however, Plaintiffs believe FLAG to be the defendant that has spearheaded all activities relating to the other entities which have given rise to this suit to wit, and rendering Defendants USIMT, CSRT, and IASA dispensible parties.

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We asked one of our legal experts about Babbitt’s move here, and got this response…

This could pull the rug from under Miscavige’s motions to dismiss the entire suit (especially since several of the defendants behind the motions are the ones Babbitt wants to cut loose). Rule 15 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that leave to amend should be granted liberally. It will be interesting to see if the church opposes the dropping of defendants and the amending of the complaint. Since they waited nine months to “reveal” the diversity problem, and they are benefiting from the removal of defendants, I can’t see Whittemore giving much credence to any objection, especially since his discovery order was for the purpose of learning new facts in order to resolve the jurisdiction problem.

One more thing, the church’s brief was due yesterday, and Babbitt’s filing may have made it moot. Babbitt filed this Wednesday, so 1. The church doesn’t claim he owes them legal fees for waiting until after they filed their discovery motion (slight possibility); and 2. He could take the air out of their arguments before they get to make them. Miscavige is not going to like being put in this trap of arguing against a request to dismiss him and other church entities from the complaint.

Here’s the filing. We look forward to your thoughts on it…

 

Garcia vs. Scientology: Motion to Amend

 
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Christie2Hollywood Testing Center almost ready?

We got this dispatch from Angry Gay Pope, who checked on the building that was supposed to re-open along with AOSH and AOLA at Pac Base recently. We had heard that a new occupancy permit was needed before the Hollywood Life Improvement Center (formerly the Hollywood Testing Center) could open…

I was at the Hollywood Inn/Christie Hotel/Longsign Bldg. a day ago. It is almost complete with a totally redone lobby that is finished except for a few pieces of equipment under plastic. It’s full of the standard robotic kiosks themed the same as the Big Blue lobby.

Workers were doing final touches. I didn’t protest or anything I just watched. Perhaps it would already be done by now if they didn’t use untrained Sea Org to fix it! Windows are finally uncovered allowing pedestrians to look in.

The big question is not the lobby. What are they doing with the rest of the building? I assume there is now plenty of SO housing since so many people blew. Are they going to let SO live there and be exposed to the hubbub of Hollywood? The subway station is literally half a block away making blowing a real possibility.

Outside there were many large rolls of blue cloth lying by the walls like they were going to decorate the building and then gave up. I assume it could be open any time and the official excuse of “permit problems” is total BS.

They may even open it without a ceremony since they know how high profile the event would be. And they got less than 2,000 people for the big blue event.

Expect the opening ceremony to take place in a few weeks or not at all.

 
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A couple of programming notes

We heard from Mel Fabregas, who told us our show at Veritas Radio was moved to next Thursday.

Still on schedule, however, is tomorrow night’s episode about Scientology on H2’s “America’s Book of Secrets,” airing at 10 pm Eastern. We’ll have more to say about it tomorrow, and we figure some live-blogging during the episode might be in order.

 
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Posted by Tony Ortega on March 28, 2014 at 14:00

E-mail your tips and story ideas to tonyo94@gmail.com or follow us on Twitter. We post behind-the-scenes updates at our Facebook author page. Here at the Bunker we try to have a post up every morning at 7 AM Eastern (Noon GMT), and on some days we post an afternoon story at around 2 PM. After every new story we send out an alert to our e-mail list and our FB page.

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

PZ Myers reads L. Ron Hubbard’s “A History of Man” | Scientology’s Master Spies | Scientology’s Private Dancer

 

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