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Texas appeals court gets Scientology leader David Miscavige out of testifying in harassment lawsuit

MiscavigeRomeThe Texas Third Court of Appeals has overturned a lower court’s order for Scientology leader David Miscavige to be deposed in one phase of Monique Rathbun’s harassment lawsuit against the church.

The appeals panel decided that Comal County Judge Dib Waldrip had abused his discretion when he agreed with Monique’s legal team that in order to prove that the Texas county court had jurisdiction over Miscavige, who is in California, he could be questioned to determine his connection to what she alleges were years of harassment by Scientology operatives. (Miscavige has never accepted service in the lawsuit, filing what’s called a “special appearance” to try and get him removed from it on jurisdiction grounds.)

The appeals court held that as Scientology’s leader, Miscavige enjoyed some protection from what is known in Texas law as an “apex deposition.” The rule protects CEOs, for example, from being dragged into lawsuits that don’t really have anything to do with them.

Monique’s team, however, had pointed out that Miscavige was a named defendant in the complaint, and not just the leader of an organization she was suing. She also argued that her lawsuit will prove that Miscavige was personally involved in directing the harassment campaign.

The appeals court admitted that it couldn’t remember the “apex deposition” rule being applied in a “special appearance” or in the case of a CEO being a named defendant.

The appellate justices decided that the apex rule does apply, because Monique had not provided enough evidence that Miscavige was personally involved in her harassment. To reach that decision, the panel appeared to rely on the testimony of Miscavige’s underlings — testimony that Monique’s team has said was full of lies.


So for now, Miscavige won’t have to be deposed when the question of his special appearance is decided. If Waldrip eventually denies the special appearance and decides that his court does have jurisdiction over Miscavige, and if Monique’s lawsuit survives another appeal regarding the denial of Scientology’s “anti-SLAPP” motion, then Miscavige could eventually be deposed anyway in the course of discovery for the lawsuit itself.

“The core of our lawsuit is that this was really a campaign directed by Miscavige against Ms. Rathbun and her husband, so, to not even get to depose him over his involvement was, is highly disappointing,” Monique’s attorney Ray Jeffrey told the San Antonio News Express. “It greatly harms our ability to get the true facts out when the primary actor is protected from having to testify about what he did.”

Here’s the opinion…


Monique Rathbun v. Scientology: Appeal Opinion


Posted by Tony Ortega on July 17, 2014 at 16:11

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