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Signs of chaos emerge for Scientology’s drug rehab legal defense

LewisBrisboisThe last time we reported on the 19 lawsuits filed against Scientology’s drug rehab network Narconon by Las Vegas attorney Ryan Hamilton, we told you that Hamilton had won a decisive victory in the Geanacopulos lawsuit when Judge James C. Mahan denied the motion to dismiss filed by Narconon International and the Association for Better Living and Education (ABLE).

We called it an across-the-board victory as Judge Mahan knocked down each of the arguments made by International and ABLE, and we may have been more right than we realized.

We just learned that Narconon’s attorneys have asked that its motions to dismiss in several of the Hamilton lawsuits be withdrawn. There’s no explanation given, and in each of the lawsuits — McClure, Tino, Winchell, and Yates — it’s the law firm of Lewis, Brisbois, Bisgaard & Smith, representing Rainbow Canyon Retreat — the Narconon Fresh Start facility in Caliente, Nevada — which has asked for the withdrawals. (The Geanocopoulis lawsuit also involves the Nevada rehab center.)

But it’s another filing by the Lewis Brisbois law firm that really caught our attention. This one involves the Tarr lawsuit, also filed against Rainbow Canyon Retreat in Nevada, and it’s pretty unusual. The attorneys of Lewis Brisbois are asking for emergency relief because they got screwed over by the attorneys for Narconon International and ABLE.

It turns out that International and ABLE settled with Hamilton’s plaintiffs and got out of the lawsuit without telling Rainbow Canyon Retreat or its attorneys, Lewis Brisbois. And that’s put Lewis Brisbois in a bad position as it apparently puts them over a deadline to submit a list of expert witnesses.

In other words, there’s some chaos going on in Scientology’s defense of its Nevada lawsuits, and one set of attorneys didn’t have the decency to inform another set of attorneys that Narconon International and ABLE had cut a check to get out of one battle. Meanwhile, four other motions to dismiss have been withdrawn without explanation. What’s going on?


One of our legal experts tells us that the withdrawals may indicate that settlements are imminent in those cases, or that Judge Mahan’s order in the Geanacopulos suit was so total it convinced Lewis Brisbois to tank the others (at least in Nevada).

As for the screw-up in the Tarr case, we turned to Graham Berry, a man we first wrote about more than a decade ago, to take a close look at the unusual request for emergency relief by the attorneys at Lewis Brisbois — a firm Berry was once a part of.

He sent us this reply…

From this emergency motion it appears that there has not been a united and coordinated defense by the three Narconon entities. The local Narconon entity, Fresh Start, is represented by the Las Vegas office of the Lewis, Brisbois law firm where I was once a partner. Undoubtedly, Fresh Start is being represented under an insurance policy providing a defense and indemnity for claims of negligence, etc. The two senior Narconon defendants (ABLE and Narconon International) are being represented by another Nevada law firm (the Carroll, Kelly law firm). It appears that there is either a separate insurance carrier for those two senior Narconon entities or, more likely, they are “bare” or self-insured. If there was a single insurance policy covering all defendants one would expect to see a global settlement for all three defendants and that the Lewis, Brisbois law firm would have been part of the settlement negotiations between the Carroll, Kelly law firm (for the two senior Narconon entities) and Ryan Hamilton, Esq. (for the plaintiffs).

My speculation is that the Church of Scientology wanted Narconon International and ABLE out of this litigation largely at the expense of Fresh Start’s insurance carrier. Scientology probably paid a ‘costs of defense’ settlement amid threats of a litigation blitzkrieg that would unduly consume Ryan Hamilton’s time. The settlement may also provide for Scientology to make a certain payment in the event Hamilton’s client does not recover at least a specified dollar amount from Fresh Start’s insurance carrier. As for the plaintiff, it probably funds the rest of the litigation against Fresh Start and its insurer.

The Fresh Start Emergency Motion suggests that Lewis, Brisbois had not been coordinating a joint defense strategy, was blind-sided by the settlement, and that its insurance carrier client is now left carrying the entire potential liability tab. Lewis, Brisbois represents both Fresh Start and its presumed insurance carrier. Fresh Start’s next move could be to hire separate coverage counsel to submit a demand that the insurance carrier pay the balance of its insurance policy limits to the plaintiffs, because liability is probable and liability is likely to exceed policy limits.

If the insurance carrier refuses a “policy limits” demand, Fresh Start’s insurance policy may be largely or totally exhausted by the costs of the Lewis, Brisbois defense, in which event Fresh Start would be responsible for the remaining costs and a potential adverse judgment at trial. However, Fresh Start could then file for the bankruptcy discharge of those liabilities (unless they result from an intentional tort).

Here’s the filing for emergency relief. We’d love to hear more analysis from the attorneys who read this website…


Tarr v. Narconon: Request for Emergency Relief


Posted by Tony Ortega on September 1, 2014 at 08:30

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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, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48

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, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48, 49

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