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JURY AWARDS $11 MILLION OVER DEATH OF SCIENTOLOGY REHAB PATIENT

[Attorney Gavin Long]

We talked earlier today with Newport Beach attorney H. Gavin Long, who was understandably chuffed about beating Scientology’s drug rehab network, Narconon, after a 12-day trial in Santa Cruz, California.

“It was great. It felt great for 12 days. From beginning to end it was just a beating,” he says.

Long represented the family of John Cunningham, a 58-year-old retired Boeing employee in Washington state who had become addicted to Benzodiazepines like Xanax, and had relapsed after several attempts at rehab. But then his sister Jan researched rehabs until she found one in Watsonville, California by the name of “Redwood Cliffs.”

Not realizing that it was a Scientology Narconon location, John went but needed detoxing. So Redwood Cliffs sent him to a 6-week-old detox facility, Bright Futures Recovery, that had been started by one of the recent graduates of the Redwood Cliff program, who was just 25. Among the drugs they had him quit cold turkey were meds he took for depression.

Long says the detox facility was “horribly run,” and that it had no idea how to handle a serious case like Cunningham’s. John went to a local ER three times in just five days for withdrawal symptoms.

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Then, on August 22, 2015, the BFR staff left John alone long enough that he was able to hang himself by a belt in his bedroom closet.

It was only after his death that John’s family realized that they had sent him to a Scientology rehab, which had in turn sent him to such a fly-by-night facility.

In the trial, Narconon argued that it didn’t refer John, but Long says the jury didn’t buy it.

In pre-trial discussions, Long had said the family would settle the case for $1 million each from Redwood Cliffs and Bright Futures Recovery. But the rehabs came back with offers of $100,000 and $350,000, respectively.

Refusing to take those amounts, the Cunningham family went to trial, which rarely happens in these cases. And Long says Scientology tried to make them pay, digging up as much dirt about John Cunningham and his family as they could.

But in the end, the jury awarded much more than the family had been asking for — $11 million in damages.

Long points out that the other side had attorneys with five different law firms working for the defense, but he had only himself.

“We called 21 of the 22 witnesses in the trial, and we had a great judge,” he says.

Since this lawsuit was filed, Scientology cut ties with its Northern California Narconon network, and the Redwood Cliffs facility has closed. But Narconon is still on the hook for its share of the verdict.

Wow, an actual trial and a jury award against a Scientology front group. What a result.

 
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HowdyCon 2019 in Los Angeles

THURSDAY NIGHT OPPORTUNITY: This year’s HowdyCon is in Los Angeles. People tend to come in starting on Thursday, and that evening we will have a casual get-together at a watering hole. But we also want to point out that Cathy Schenkelberg’s “Squeeze My Cans” will be running at the Hollywood Fringe, and we encourage HowdyCon attendees to see her show on Thursday night, June 20. Tickets and more dates available here.

Friday night June 21 we will be having an event in a theater (like we did on Saturday night last year in Chicago). There will not be a charge to attend this event, but if you want to attend, you need to RSVP with your proprietor at tonyo94 AT gmail.

On Saturday, we are joining forces with Janis Gillham Grady, who is having a reunion in honor of the late Bill Franks. Originally, we thought this event might take place in Riverside, but instead it’s in the Los Angeles area. If you wish to attend the reunion, you will need to RSVP with Janis (janisgrady AT gmail), and there will be a small contribution she’s asking for in order to help cover her costs.

HOTEL: Janis tells us she’s worked out a deal with Hampton Inn and Suites, at 7501 North Glenoaks Blvd, Burbank, (818) 768-1106. We have a $159 nightly rate for June 19 to 22. Note: You need to ask for the “family reunion” special rate.

 

 
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Scientology’s celebrities, ‘Ideal Orgs,’ and more!

[The Big Three: Tom Cruise, John Travolta, and Kirstie Alley]

We’ve been building landing pages about David Miscavige’s favorite playthings, including celebrities and ‘Ideal Orgs,’ and we’re hoping you’ll join in and help us gather as much information as we can about them. Head on over and help us with links and photos and comments.

Scientology’s celebrities, from A to Z! Find your favorite Hubbardite celeb at this index page — or suggest someone to add to the list!

Scientology’s ‘Ideal Orgs,’ from one end of the planet to the other! Help us build up pages about each these worldwide locations!

Scientology’s sneaky front groups, spreading the good news about L. Ron Hubbard while pretending to benefit society!

Scientology Lit: Books reviewed or excerpted in our weekly series. How many have you read?

 
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THE WHOLE TRACK

[ONE year ago] Scientology celeb Joy Villa takes down her ‘testing the waters’ for Congress web pages
[TWO years ago] Even in Mexico, Scientology bullies people with hired muscle — but for now strikes out
[THREE years ago] Scientology’s hypnotic suggestion: What’s true for you is what’s true for L. Ron Hubbard
[FOUR years ago] Guest post: 20 reasons the Church of Scientology is a cult and a fraud
[FIVE years ago] Scientology’s plans for the KCET studios in Los Angeles finally taking shape?
[SIX years ago] OKLAHOMA GOVERNOR SIGNS LAW AIMED AT SCIENTOLOGY DRUG REHAB
[SEVEN years ago] The Five Most Dream-Like Sequences in the John Travolta Sex-Assault Lawsuit
[NINE years ago] Tom Cruise Was Secretly Videotaped So Scientology Leader David Miscavige Could Regale Party Guests?

 
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Scientology disconnection, a reminder

Bernie Headley has not seen his daughter Stephanie in 5,439 days.
Valerie Haney has not seen her mother Lynne in 1,568 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 2,072 days
Sylvia Wagner DeWall has not seen her brother Randy in 1,552 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 612 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 503 days.
Christie Collbran has not seen her mother Liz King in 3,810 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 1,678 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 2,452 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 3,226 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 2,572 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 11,138 days.
Melissa Paris has not seen her father Jean-Francois in 7,058 days.
Valeska Paris has not seen her brother Raphael in 3,225 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 2,806 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 3,067 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 2,106 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 1,818 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 1,344 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 5,433 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 2,573 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 2,893 days.
Roger Weller has not seen his daughter Alyssa in 7,749 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 2,868 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 1,224 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 5,526 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 1,632 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 2,034 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 1,906 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 1,489 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 1,984 days.
Mary Jane Sterne has not seen her daughter Samantha in 2,238 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 13,347 days.

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Posted by Tony Ortega on May 7, 2019 at 19:10

E-mail tips to tonyo94 AT gmail DOT com or follow us on Twitter. We also post 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 new book with Paulette Cooper, Battlefield Scientology: Exposing L. Ron Hubbard’s dangerous ‘religion’ is now on sale at Amazon in paperback and Kindle formats. Our book about Paulette, The Unbreakable Miss Lovely: How the Church of Scientology tried to destroy Paulette Cooper, is on sale at Amazon in paperback, Kindle, and audiobook versions. We’ve posted photographs of Paulette and scenes from her life at a separate location. Reader Sookie put together a complete index. More information can also be found at the book’s dedicated page.

The Best of the Underground Bunker, 1995-2018 Just starting out here? We’ve picked out the most important stories we’ve covered here at the Underground Bunker (2012-2018), The Village Voice (2008-2012), New Times Los Angeles (1999-2002) and the Phoenix New Times (1995-1999)

Other links: BLOGGING DIANETICS: Reading Scientology’s founding text cover to cover | 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 | 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 | 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

Watch our short videos that explain Scientology’s controversies in three minutes or less…

Check your whale level at our dedicated page for status updates, or join us at the Underground Bunker’s Facebook discussion group for more frivolity.

Our non-Scientology stories: Robert Burnham Jr., the man who inscribed the universe | Notorious alt-right inspiration Kevin MacDonald and his theories about Jewish DNA | The selling of the “Phoenix Lights” | Astronomer Harlow Shapley‘s FBI file | Sex, spies, and local TV news | Battling Babe-Hounds: Ross Jeffries v. R. Don Steele

 

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