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Was it something we said? Scientology wants Cindy Plahuta’s letter in fraud lawsuit struck

CindyPlahutaWallyPope

[Cindy Plahuta’s letter didn’t sit well with Scientology attorney Wally Pope]

On Wednesday, we revealed that Tampa federal Judge James D. Whittemore had put two letters into the court file of the federal fraud lawsuit filed by California residents Luis and Rocio Garcia against the Church of Scientology.

The two letters, sent independently by former Scientology members Cindy Plahuta of Colorado and Marcel Wenger of Switzerland, explained to Judge Whittemore that when they tried to communicate with Scientology about the arbitration process that the church was insisting the Garcias need to go through in lieu of their lawsuit, they received no replies — and they said it was further proof that the arbitration system doesn’t really exist, is mentioned in contracts signed by church members as a sham, and that the court is being lied to.

Judge Whittemore is currently considering arguments by the Garcias that they have been unable to select arbitrators because of Scientology’s obstructive tactics. The Garcias say that the arbitration system is a sham, and want their lawsuit to be revived after Whittemore had ruled that they had to abide by the contracts they had signed and submit themselves to Scientology’s internal justice procedures. Scientology, meanwhile, argues that it’s the Garcias who are being uncooperative. We found it interesting that it was Whittemore himself who filed the letters by Plahuta and Wenger, and we wondered if they might have some effect on whatever ruling he makes — but we assumed he couldn’t really consider them and filed them most likely because he felt obligated to.

Yesterday, the day after our story appeared, the Church of Scientology filed a motion to strike the letters from the court file.

Scientology’s attorneys were clearly unhappy that the letters supported the arguments being made by the Garcias, and they called it improper for the letters to be filed as a part of the lawsuit.

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“While neither Wenger nor Plahuta are parties to the case, they clearly have attempted to file, in letter form, further memoranda in support of the Plaintiffs position, without seeking leave of court,” Scientology’s attorney, Wally Pope, says in the brief.

We understand that there are rules about what a judge can consider, but we couldn’t help enjoying the way Wally Pope complained about the letters, as he seemed to admit that they were actually pretty effective and made a strong point about Scientology and its fake internal justice procedures…

“The letters of Wenger and Plahuta clearly request relief in favor of the Plaintiffs, and clearly present argument with respect to the very matters awaiting decision.”

Ooh. The letters are on point and make the church look bad. Quick, judge, tear them up!

Here’s Wally Pope’s filing…

Garcia v. Scientology: Motion to Strike Letters

 
We’re still of the mind that it was a real shame that Judge Whittemore, who seemed to be so meticulous about the details in the case, then ignored the facts presented about Scientology’s sham justice procedures and ruled that he simply couldn’t consider those problems because to do so would be to violate Scientology’s First Amendment religious rights.

In an earlier case, he had ruled the complete opposite — that crimes of fraud committed by a couple were so egregious, it didn’t matter that they had done so in the name of religion and were asking for protection under the First Amendment.

Even Scientology admitted that its arbitration rules don’t really exist, as Plahuta and Wenger demonstrated with their letters. Will Judge Whittemore continue to insist that even if Scientology’s justice procedures are a sham that are being used, in this case, to negate charges of fraud, there’s nothing he can do about it?

Even if he does strike Cindy Plahuta’s letter, that essential fact about Scientology and its half truths will still be before the judge.

UPDATE: Cindy Plahuta sent us this statement…

I was very surprised to discover this morning that the Church of Scientology filed a motion about my letter. I will be very pleased if my letter to the Judge helps the Garcia case.

As you know, Matt and I requested refunds in 2012 from all the Church entities that we had paid. We received either no response or nasty responses. Basically, we were not allowed to go into an Org to request the refund check sheet. And that we had gotten a tax deduction for our payments to them. I am still as appalled today as I was in 2012, and so sad that at one time, we believed the Church was honest and trustworthy.

I am very happy that Judge Whittemore actually received my letter, read it, and found it of value to the Garcia case. I was compelled to write the letter because I know that the Church will never give the Garcias their money back. I know this from my own experience.

 
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Bonus items from our tipsters

No date on this flier, but we know it’s July 31.

 
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3D-UnbreakablePosted by Tony Ortega on July 22, 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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