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Monique Rathbun formally ends her lawsuit in Texas; Ken Dandar wins again in Florida

Monique_Rathbun5

Monique Rathbun’s harassment lawsuit against the Church of Scientology which she filed in August 2013 has now ended with a document she filed Tuesday in Comal County, Texas.

The “motion for entry of nonsuit,” a two-page document that Monique filed, asks Judge Dib Waldrip to sign an order confirming the lawsuit’s demise, but our experts tell us that once Monique filed the nonsuit document with the court, her case was officially over.

Once again, Monique blamed her former attorneys, whom she fired in January, for convincing her to drop the lawsuit, despite the winning streak she had been on, including a recent appeals court victory that seemed to put her in the driver’s seat.

“1. While performing its [sic] exit strategy from this lawsuit my former lawyers made two things abundantly clear to me: a) my lawsuit is not worth it financially for former counsel or anyone to continue to litigate, and b) my husband and I have effectively achieved the primary purpose that the lawsuit was originally intended to serve by our own independent effort,” the document reads.

That’s similar language to what was said in a motion Monique submitted to the state supreme court, asking for a stay to be lifted in the case.

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Ray Jeffrey, Monique’s attorney, denied that he and the other lawyers had ever expressed doubts about the financial potential for the lawsuit, and he pointed out that they had been fired from the case, they didn’t walk away from it.

In this new document, Monique added yet another reference to her former attorneys, this time claiming that they had satisfied their own reasons for helping her sue in the first place: “Since former counsel’s January 2016 withdrawal it has become evident that their own stated primary purpose for litigating the case has also been achieved.”

We asked Ray Jeffrey about that line, and once again he pointed out to us that he and his colleagues were suddenly fired, they did not “withdraw.”

“Our primary purpose for bringing the lawsuit was to win, and to win compensation for Monique and her attorneys. I have no idea what they’re talking about,” Ray told us.

We sent messages to Monique Rathbun and her husband, former high-ranking Scientology executive Mark “Marty” Rathbun,” asking for some clarification on that line. We’ll let you know if they respond.

Also new in this document is that Monique has asked that her lawsuit be nonsuited “without prejudice.” That means she’s leaving the prospect open that the suit might be revived sometime in the future.

“It looks like the Rathbuns were concerned about the possibility of the church going after them to recover some attorney’s fees. That’s prudent, but it’s a little off topic for the nonsuit notice here, since there is no pending motion for any award of fees, at least as far as I can see,” says our legal expert, TexasLawyer. “But Monique is right, the court should see her as the prevailing party if it ever comes to anything like that. The judge may or may not include the statement about each side bearing its own attorney fees when the actual order is signed.

“On to the legal effect. Although judges almost always sign an order like the one Mrs. Rathbun proposes to confirm that the case has been nonsuited — i.e., voluntarily dismissed — it’s not technically necessary. The filing of the notice of nonsuit means the case is immediately effective, and Monique’s claims are gone as of this moment. Judge Waldrip will continue to have jurisdiction to resolve any remaining procedural matters, such as the attorney’s fees question. But other than that, this lawsuit is over.

“The Rathbuns were wise to make sure that this is being nonsuited ‘without prejudice’ to refiling. This is not a determination on the merits of the claims, and that means Monique can refile if they ever need to, for instance if the Squirrel Busters start up their activities again. But at this point, I would assume that a lot of the church’s pre-lawsuit activity is going to be far enough in the past that the statute of limitations will prevent those specific actions from being re-litigated. That probably means the end of ecclesiastical dildos in the Texas courts.

“Still, I hope this whole experience serves as a bit of a deterrent to further Squirrel Buster-style operations by the church. They may have been able to wait out the Rathbuns’ patience, but the case really did seem to expose some of the church’s potential legal vulnerabilities. In pursuing the anti-SLAPP motion, the church walked straight into a fight over the religious versus commercial distinction that underlies their unfortunately tax-exempt status. And having Mike Rinder expose all those messages showing David Miscavige personally directing another harassment campaign was pure gold. The more that type of stuff comes out, the less the church and Miscavige can hide behind flat-out denial, at least in the courts.”

Here’s the document…

Monique Rathbun vs. Scientology Motion for Entry of Nonsuit

 
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KenDandar2Ken Dandar wins again — is a new lawsuit next?

We’re still amazed at the turnaround in the fortunes of attorney Ken Dandar, who looked like he was never going to get out from under a $1 million judgment against him awarded to the Church of Scientology. But then an appeals court shocked everyone (including Dandar) when it vacated the award on a technicality.

Scientology asked the appeals court for a rehearing en banc — meaning that the entire set of justices at the court would reconsider the matter — but that request was turned down Monday, affirming the earlier decision.

Scientology had won the judgment against Dandar when it convinced a retired state judge, Crockett Farnell, that Dandar had violated a 2004 court settlement by taking on a new lawsuit against the Church of Scientology in 2009 on behalf of a woman named Victoria Britton, whose son Kyle Brennan had died in 2007 under mysterious circumstances. Scientology argued that in the 2004 settlement, ending a lawsuit over the 1995 death of Scientologist Lisa McPherson, Dandar had promised never to sue the church in the future. By representing Britton in her 2009 lawsuit, Dandar had broken that promise, the church argued to Judge Farnell. Dandar denied that he had made such a promise, and argued that it was against Florida bar rules to put such a “practice restriction” on an attorney. Nevertheless, he tried to exit Britton’s lawsuit as Judge Farnell ordered, but the federal judge handling Britton’s suit, Stephen Merryday, refused to let Dandar withdraw until he found a replacement. Because it took Dandar so long to find one — very few attorneys are willing to represent clients against the Church of Scientology — Judge Farnell awarded Scientology fees of $1,068,156.50 in 2014.

Dandar tried numerous appeals, including in federal court, but it was a Florida state appeals court that said the judgment had been awarded improperly. If Scientology felt the 2004 settlement was violated by Dandar, then it should have brought a new lawsuit, and not simply gone back to the original McPherson lawsuit court and asked for damages.

Now, the appeals court has refused to reconsider that decision, leaving Scientology with a choice. Either drop the matter or file a new lawsuit against Dandar.

Dandar is no longer representing anyone against Scientology, and after he found a replacement and extricated himself from the Britton lawsuit it was dismissed by Judge Merryday for lack of evidence. What’s there to sue over at this point?

But this is Scientology, and logic rarely comes into it. We left a message for Scientology’s attorney handling the matter, Wally Pope, asking if he plans to file a new lawsuit. We’ll let you know if he responds.

Dandar tells us he does expect Scientology to file a lawsuit, and we’ll let you know if that happens.

 
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‘Miss Lovely’ gets the A.V. Club treatment

Nathan Rabin has a great thing going at the A.V. Club, The Onion’s influential culture website. He reviews books on his own schedule, not on a publisher’s. And he has a strong interest in Scientology, which has led him to review books like Leah Remini’s Troublemaker.

And now, to our complete surprise, Rabin has chosen to write about our book, The Unbreakable Miss Lovely: How the Church of Scientology tried to destroy Paulette Cooper. We’re humbled, and very pleased that he seemed to have enjoyed the book so much. It’s great to see someone as inspired as we were about Paulette’s amazing life and her triumph against long odds.

The A.V. Club has a huge readership. We hope that some of Rabin’s many fans manage to find their way to our underground lair and can join us as we keep our daily watch on Scientology news.

 
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3D-UnbreakablePosted by Tony Ortega on May 12, 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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