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narconon-redwood-cliffsCatapulting from the success of Las Vegas attorney Ryan Hamilton, who spent the past year filing 27 lawsuits against Scientology’s drug rehab network Narconon, three attorneys who have watched Hamilton closely have filed a new class-action lawsuit against two Narconon corporations in California with two initial plaintiffs.

Indiana attorney David Miller, California attorney Michael Ram, and Seattle attorney Beth Terrell filed their suit in federal court in Northern California, and have asked for both national and regional classes to be certified as their clients sue for breach of contract, negligent representation, false advertising, and unfair competition.

In other words, they’re hoping to add potentially many more plaintiffs around the United States who believe they have been harmed by what the suit characterizes as Narconon’s deceptive business practices.

If you’ve observed Hamilton’s lawsuits evolve since we began watching them, you may have some sense of the way he found evidence to show that Narconon centers claim to be secular and offer individualized drug training. But when patients pay the approximately $30,000 to enter the program, they soon find that the Narconon program contains no drug counseling at all, but instead is the same Scientology training that beginning church members go through.

You’ll see the same evidence that Hamilton unearthed referred to in this new lawsuit, and it’s laser focused on that essential bait and switch. (Other lawsuits have made allegations about rampant drug use by Narconon staffs, and allegations of drugs traded for sex, and also harm caused by the program’s focus on lengthy sauna use. But here, the suit is about the essential deception about what Narconon offers.)

Plaintiff Nathan Burgoon is from California, and he spent time last fall at a Narconon in Watsonville, Narconon Redwood Cliffs (pictured), which is owned by Narconon Northern California (NNC). According to the complaint…


Mr. Burgoon opted to terminate his “treatment” after complying with NNC’s direction that he spend six to eight hours a day for twenty straight days in a hot sauna, in accordance with the Narconon Program. NNC did not, and has not, refunded Mr. Burgoon any of the $37,500 he paid. Had Mr. Burgoon been informed that “treatment” at NNC consisted of the study of Scientology and participation in Scientology rituals, he would not have enrolled in a Narconon Program…

The other plaintiff, Caleb Landers, is from Pennsylvania, and he went to a Narconon center in Warner Springs, in San Diego County, which is owned by Narconon Fresh Start (NFS). After his parents had paid an initial $10,000 for him to start the program…

It became apparent to Mr. Landers that NFS had strong ties to Scientology and the Narconon Program was a tool to promote its teachings. Mr. Landers observed that all of the text books used by NFS were written by L. Ron Hubbard. Furthermore, Mr. Landers was regularly forced to perform Scientology rituals that were often mischaracterized as drills, exercises and/or counselling sessions. Mr. Landers advised his parents of his experiences at NFS and with their consent decided to leave the NFS Warner Springs Facility. Mr. Landers’ parents also placed a stop payment request on a personal check written to NFS for $21,000.00.

We spoke with David Miller, and he says that there has been a lull in new lawsuits recently as attorneys around the country were waiting to see what would happen with Hamilton’s request to consolidate Narconon lawsuits so that they would be heard out of a single courtroom. But the US Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation denied that request, and so now attorneys suing Narconon are ramping back up. Miller says this new lawsuit is just the first of several more that are coming.

And he points out that because some of the first lawsuits that Hamilton began filing more than a year ago have survived attempts by Narconon to have them dismissed, those lawsuits are now moving into discovery phase. Hamilton will have the opportunity to begin deposing Narconon and Scientology officials, which will be testimony that other teams suing the rehab system can use.

In each of the dozens of lawsuits filed in recent years, the defendants tend to be a local rehab center, but also two Scientology umbrella groups: the Association for Better Living and Education (ABLE), and an entity it oversees, Narconon International (NI). NI in turn licenses Narconon’s program to the invidual rehab centers.

We pointed out to Miller that the presidents of both ABLE and NI have been disappeared by Scientology. Would he and Hamilton be asking Scientology to produce them for deposition?

We’ll be fascinated to find out what happens if ABLE is asked to produce Rena Weinberg, who vanished from ABLE in 2007 and was subsequently seen to be in the church’s infamous prison for executives, “The Hole,” and Narconon International is asked to produce Clark Carr, who suddenly abandoned his offices in January. And if they do show up, we expect they’ll have some interesting stories to tell.

Here’s the complaint:

Burgoon v Narconon: Complaint


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Your proprietor and the ‘C’ word

We thought this was an interesting moment during our recent appearance with Caroline Modarressy-Tehrani on HuffPost Live. We know that many don’t agree with us, but it’s a succinct answer that we wanted to preserve for the next time we get asked this question.



Posted by Tony Ortega on March 31, 2015 at 07:00

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Learn about Scientology with our numerous series with experts…

BLOGGING DIANETICS: We read Scientology’s founding text cover to cover with the help of LA 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

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
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


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