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Scientology confirms it won’t oppose Monique Rathbun’s plans to ditch lawsuit

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According to the Texas Supreme Court’s online docket, the Church of Scientology has confirmed that it is unopposed to the motion filed last week by Monique Rathbun, who has asked for a stay in her case so she can dismiss her lawsuit outright.

Meanwhile, at his blog, Monique’s husband, Mark “Marty” Rathbun, announced Monday that “there was no settlement” to end the case.

Our Texas legal expert, an attorney who has handled appellate matters there and goes by the handle “TexasLawyer,” had told us that it appeared to him the case was ending without a settlement, even though many of our readers have assumed that the Rathbuns must have worked out some kind of financial agreement with Scientology after news broke in February that Monique had fired her entire legal team in the three-year lawsuit.

Monique, in her motion to lift the stay, claimed that her former attorneys saddled her with a poorly written complaint, failed to take her suggestions for legal strategy under consideration, and had tried to convince her that the lawsuit had little potential for a substantial monetary reward.

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Her former attorney Ray Jeffrey denied that, telling us, “I strongly disagree with any implication that the lawyers were unwilling to go forward because there was not enough money in the case. We were fired, we didn’t abandon the case.”

Jeffrey and his colleagues — Marc Wiegand, Elliott Cappuccio, and Leslie Hyman — had been winning the case, by any objective standard. After Monique filed the lawsuit in August 2013, Scientology resorted to its usual scorched-earth tactics, even filing a motion to disqualify Monique’s lawyers. Jeffrey fended off that attack, and had also won a victory at both the trial court and appellate court levels against Scientology’s next major move, an “anti-SLAPP” motion that claimed Monique’s lawsuit was a bullying attempt to squelch Scientology’s free speech rights.

The Texas Third Court of Appeals took more than a year to uphold Comal County Judge Dib Waldrip’s denial of that motion, but it did so with force, belittling Scientology’s claim that its harassing surveillance of the Rathbuns was protected by the First Amendment.

Scientology then signaled that it planned to petition the Texas Supreme Court to have that appellate decision overturned, but it felt like a longshot. Monique was in a strong position, TexasLawyer told us, and in the next year could really begin to “bring the pain” on Scientology.

So it came as a serious shock when Monique fired her legal team and then moved to dismiss the lawsuit outright.

If Monique was simply tired of the case and wanted to end it, Ray Jeffrey had been willing to work out a cash settlement with Scientology. Jeffrey and his team had put in thousands of hours on the case without pay and, by his estimate, had put about a million dollars worth of work into it. And because Monique fired her attorneys “without cause,” they would still be in line to take their contingency fee, something like 40 percent we estimate, if a settlement did occur.

But TexasLawyer told us it looked more likely that no settlement had occurred, which meant that Monique and her former attorneys would walk away with no money at all.

There was one somewhat cryptic sentence in Monique’s motion filed last week, however, which made us wonder about that.

“My husband and I have effectively achieved the primary purpose that the lawsuit was originally intended to serve by our own independent efforts,” Monique wrote.

An attorney pointed out to us that the “primary purpose” of a civil lawsuit is to recover damages, so was Monique saying that she — and her husband — had recovered damages in the form of a secret settlement?

On Monday, at his blog, Marty Rathbun stated outright that there is no settlement…

 
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We’re told by numerous legal observers that Ray Jeffrey and his team won’t take Marty’s word for that but will engage in due diligence to make sure that there isn’t a financial deal — a financial deal that they would be entitled to a large percentage of.

For now, however, it looks most likely that the Rathbuns are walking away from their lawsuit without a dime, and their former attorneys will be entitled to 40 percent of bupkis.

We asked once again for help from TexasLawyer to get his perspective on these latest developments.

The Bunker: Is it unreasonable to assume, with their winning streak in court following the appellate victory, that Ray Jeffrey, given his ability to negotiate what we believe were large settlements for Debbie Cook and the former Scientology private eyes (Paul Marrick and Greg Arnold), could have also negotiated a large settlement for the Rathbuns, if they had asked him to? By instead firing the attorneys, badmouthing them, and withdrawing without a settlement, have the Rathbuns cost themselves and their attorneys millions of dollars?

TexasLawyer: David Miscavige certainly has funds available to make the case go away if he wanted to do so, but he does not appear to be in the habit of writing checks to exes unless he is backed into a corner. I am pretty sure that Ray could have eventually gotten a favorable settlement out of the church, but that assumes that Team Monique would have eventually beaten the anti-SLAPP motion, the special appearance, and whatever else the church may have thrown their way. It’s sad that they were so close to winning those preliminary rounds when the Rathbuns decided to pull the plug on the case. I strongly suspect that one of the multi-million dollar corners they could have backed Miscavige into would have been his deposition. Putting David Miscavige under oath sooner or later was definitely still on the table, and I bet that would have brought out the checkbook unlike anything else. They were in such a good position here. They had a trial judge who saw through the church’s spin. They had a court of appeals that upheld that judge’s decision on whether or not the case could proceed. They had a pretty clear path to putting David Miscavige under oath and on video. And then they quit.

The Bunker: If you were Ray Jeffrey, what would you do if you suspected that there’s a secret deal between the Rathbuns and Scientology?

TexasLawyer: If I was concerned about a possible secret settlement on a contingent fee engagement — which has never, ever been something I was worried about in my legal career — I would file a motion with the trial court to require my ex-clients to produce their banking records, and also require the opposing party to do the same. And if they produce those records and they profess to be clear, I would ask the court to make them put it in writing and under oath that no money has changed hands, with a perpetual waiver of limitations so I can sue the hell out of both sides if anyone is lying about it. All that may even require a separate lawsuit, but my guess is that the trial court has enough jurisdiction to straighten this stuff out.

The Bunker: As always, thank you for your help.

 
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Vice picks up Laura D’s lawsuit

We’ve been writing about the Laura DeCrescenzo lawsuit against the Church of Scientology for the last four years, and on occasion we’ve complained that other media isn’t paying attention to the really incredible facts in Laura’s case.

But once Lisa Bartley at KABC Channel 7 in Los Angeles did a segment about Laura’s lawsuit last week, boom, it’s everywhere!

And now, Vice has weighed in with a piece that is particularly complimentary to the Bunker, which we were humbled to see.

 
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Our water has electrons

We’ve been so busy with Ron Miscavige’s book launch that we didn’t have a chance to acknowledge all of our readers who were sending us news about an interesting new lawsuit in Nevada.

Courthouse News Service first reported the story Monday that Grecia Echevarria-Hernandez, a Catholic woman living in Las Vegas, filed suit on April 26 against the company that produces Real Alkalized Water. She had started working at the company the year before, but she was forced to watch Scientology videos and was told she would get raises for every Scientology course she completed.

What that first story didn’t say is that Real Water is the brainchild of Nevada Assemblyman Brent Jones, who we wrote about when he was elected to the state legislature in 2014. We also pointed out that Jones was one of the stars of one of our favorite Scientology stories of all time, written by our old friend Ron Russell, and pertaining to a lawsuit involving ostrich eggs.

Yesterday, we saw that the AP has now added Jones to its story about the lawsuit, and even mentions the ostrich egg case.

What a wonderful mashup this story is of job discrimination, Tea Party madness, carnival barker crookedness, and the Nevada legislature. We can’t wait to see what happens next!

 
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Bert Deixler at his finest

When we broke the news that Silvertail Books had received a legal threat letter about publishing Ron Miscavige’s book Ruthless in the UK, we pointed out that the letter made a reference to similar threats being sent to Ron’s US publisher, St. Martin’s Press.

But we really didn’t know anything specific about what kind of heat St. Martin’s Press was receiving from Scientology’s attorneys.

Well, now, thanks to the Church of Scientology itself, we get to see that it was none other than ace Scientology lawyer Bert Deixler who was trying to cow St. Martin’s Press into submission with some letters that are classics of the Deixler mold. We’ll show you just one of them, which was posted to the smear website Scientology has established to try and “dead agent” Ron (and is failing miserably).

Please, savor the delicious prose of Mr. Deixler, who we have singled out for examination in the past. Get a load of this sentence, for example: “Instead you sent a farrago of cavils, name calling, false assertions and intentional eliding of the clear issues. Let me dispose of your points.”

Do tell!

Tell us your favorite Deixler fulmination, and just imagine how much he ended up being paid per word…

 

Bert Deixler letter about Ruthless

 
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3D-UnbreakablePosted by Tony Ortega on May 4, 2016 at 07:00

E-mail tips and story ideas to tonyo94 AT gmail DOT com or follow us on Twitter. We post behind-the-scenes updates at our Facebook author page. After every new story we send out an alert to our e-mail list and our FB page.

Our book, The Unbreakable Miss Lovely: How the Church of Scientology tried to destroy Paulette Cooper, is on sale at Amazon in paperback and Kindle editions. We’ve posted photographs of Paulette and scenes from her life at a separate location. Reader Sookie put together a complete index. More information about the book, and our 2015 book tour, can also be found at the book’s dedicated page.

Learn about Scientology with our numerous series with experts…

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

Other links: Shelly Miscavige, ten years gone | The Lisa McPherson story told in real time | The Cathriona White stories | The Leah Remini ‘Knowledge Reports’ | Hear audio of a Scientology excommunication | Scientology’s little day care of horrors | Whatever happened to Steve Fishman? | Felony charges for Scientology’s drug rehab scam | Why Scientology digs bomb-proof vaults in the desert | 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 | Scientology boasts about assistance from Google | 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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