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VALERIE HANEY’S OPPOSITION TO ARBITRATION: A strong no to Scientology’s legal gambit

[Valerie Haney]

On January 30 there’s going to be a huge early showdown for the major lawsuits filed against the Church of Scientology last summer. On that date, Scientology is going to try to convince Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Richard J. Burdge Jr. that Valerie Haney’s lawsuit should be put on ice so she can be forced into “religious arbitration.”

Haney spent years as Scientology leader David Miscavige’s personal steward, working in his private quarters at the organization’s secretive international management compound near Hemet, California known as Gold Base or Int Base. She argues that because she knew so much about Miscavige’s private life, she then became a prisoner on the base after she was moved to another job. She ultimately escaped in 2016 by hiding in the trunk of a car.

Now she’s not only suing for kidnapping, but also for stalking, slander, and other counts resulting from the harassment she says she experienced after she went public with her story on Leah Remini’s A&E series, Scientology and the Aftermath.

Two of the Scientology entities named as defendants in the lawsuit, the Church of Scientology International and the Religious Technology Center, have responded by claiming that because Haney signed numerous “religious” contracts as a Sea Org worker, she agreed to take any grievance against the organization not to a court of law but to Scientology’s internal “religious arbitration” (not the same thing as independent arbitration that much of today’s civil litigation ends up using).

Now we have Valerie’s opposition to Scientology’s motion to compel arbitration in a document written by her Burlingame attorney, Robert W. Thompson. We have it for you below, and it’s a doozy.


But will it be enough to persuade Judge Burdge on January 30? Scientology is trying the same maneuver in another lawsuit filed by the same legal team, on behalf of four women who say the church harassed them after coming forward with allegations that they had been raped by Scientologist actor Danny Masterson. Those plaintiffs will be carefully watching what happens January 30, as will, we imagine, other former Scientologists who are thinking about joining in with lawsuits of their own with this legal team.

So what’s in Valerie’s opposition?

In our experience, attorneys fighting these Scientology contracts have tried three different strategies:

1. The contracts are too outrageous to take seriously (the “unconscionability” defense)
2. My client had no choice, they were under “duress” when they signed the contracts.

And the third is rarer…

3. My client was brainwashed by a cult, and can’t be held responsible.

In the document filed by the attorneys for Valerie Haney, they’re swinging for the fences and putting in all three defenses.

Here’s how it opens:

Defendant Church of Scientology International (“Defendant”) brainwashed Plaintiff from the tender age of six and kept her from the world outside of Scientology until she ultimately able to escape years later. During that time, Defendant forced Plaintiff to sign many documents under duress and threats of violence including, but not limited to using men with guns to coerce her into sign documents and conditioning her basic freedom of movement on the execution of the agreements that are at issue. There purported agreements Plaintiff to give up all rights she has against it, both past and future, whether or not Plaintiff is aware of. That alone makes these agreements unconscionable.

Staying the lawsuit and forcing Haney into arbitration would put her in front of a panel of Scientologists in good standing who “believe that Plaintiff is a criminal and a liar because she spoke out about the harm Defendant’s caused her. As such, the outcome of the arbitration would be a determined before it begins,” the filing says.

“Never has there been a case where purported arbitration agreements are so clearly procedurally and substantively unconscionable.”

As for Scientology claiming that its religious rights prevent a court from hearing Haney’s complaint, the First Amendment “does not give religious institutions the freedom to ignore generally applicable laws, such as contract formation. The First Amendment’s Religion Clauses are not a refuge for a criminal or tortious behavior that harms children or vulnerable adults.”

They ask for the court to deny Scientology’s motion to compel arbitration, but in case that’s not a possibility, they make an interesting additional point, that since not all of the defendants have an arbitration claim (Scientology leader David Miscavige, for example, can’t make that argument), then court rules suggest the case should go on to see how it fares against those non-arbitration defendants.


“This court should continue the hearing on this motion [delay it, in other words] and permit Plaintiff to conduct discovery related to the arbitration agreements’ enforceability. Alternatively, the Court should stay arbitration pending the outcome of the court action adjuticating Plaintiff’s claims against the remaining defendants who lack the ability to enforce arbitration.”

In other words, Haney’s attorneys have suggested ways the judge could rule besides simply yes or no regarding arbitration, which seems really smart.

But hanging over this is the knowledge that Scientology was successful in another case, a fraud lawsuit filed in 2013 by a California couple, Luis and Rocio Garcia, in a Tampa federal court. A few years into that lawsuit, after trying other scorched-earth tactics like trying to get the Garcias’ attorney disqualified, Scientology suddenly hit on the idea of asking for the case to be stayed and forcing the Garcias into relgious arbitration based on contracts they had signed — even though Scientology admitted that it had never actually held an internal arbitration, and after former top executives testified that the “religious” contracts were intended to be fraudulent. Surprisingly, federal Judge James Whittmore agreed with Scientology, saying that the First Amendment prevented him from even reviewing Scientology’s internal justice procedures. (The Garcias, who did go through the arbitration and called it a kangaroo court, are appealing Whittemore’s decision.)

A few years later, when new lawsuits were filed against the church, it immediately went to the arbitration argument since it was successful in the Garcia case.

Valerie is swinging back hard, however, and we’re looking forward to your thoughts about this document, which we have below. Her attorney makes numerous well-reasoned arguments pushing back on Scientology’s scheme.

Here’s the document…

Haney v. Scientology: Oppos… by Tony Ortega on Scribd


Source Code

“This is what? [Audience: 17th.] The what? [17th.] Of what month? [January.] 17th of January. What year? [AD 12.] AD 12. And where are we? [Saint Hill.] Huh? [Saint Hill.] Yeah, I know, but what planet? [Earth.] Earth. OK. Thank you very much. All right. Thank you very much for orienting me. I’ve been flying about here and haven’t had much time to look up.” — L. Ron Hubbard, January 17, 1962


Overheard in the FreeZone

“The ideal whistleblower would be one that discloses corruption or wrongdoing without ideas of making nothing out of Scientology. Or one that offers reform. The bad whistleblower would be that one who discloses corruption or wrongdoing with the intent of making nothing out of Scientology to benefit the status quo corruption or wrongdoing of the secret government.”


Random Howdy

“From what I’ve seen and read, status is very competitive and important in public Scientology. Except, instead of cars and homes and jewelry it’s Monty Python Roman titles, bowling trophies and dime store certificates.”


Start making your plans…

Head over to the convention website and meet us in St. Louis!


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

[Kelly Preston, Jason Dohring, and Anne Archer]

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?



[ONE year ago] Danny Masterson’s attorneys pounce on A&E’s plans for resurrecting an ‘Aftermath’ episode
[TWO years ago] The new Freedom magazine is here, and Scientology has never looked better!
[THREE years ago] Behold, it’s Scientology Jesus as you’ve never seen him before!
[FOUR years ago] How Scientology hooks public officials on its addictive anti-drug front
[FIVE years ago] L. Ron Hubbard fisticuffs! Scientology secrets unearthed in a new government disclosure
[SIX years ago] ‘The Factors’: Another video the Church of Scientology would rather you not watch
[SEVEN years ago] LIVE-BLOGGING NBC’s ROCK CENTER: Join Us to Watch Paul Haggis and Lawrence Wright!


Scientology disconnection, a reminder

Bernie Headley (1952-2019) did not see his daughter Stephanie in his final 5,667 days.
Valerie Haney has not seen her mother Lynne in 1,820 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 2,324 days
Sylvia Wagner DeWall has not seen her brother Randy in 1,844 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 864 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 755 days.
Christie Collbran has not seen her mother Liz King in 4,062 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 1,930 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 2,704 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 3,478 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 2,824 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 11,390 days.
Melissa Paris has not seen her father Jean-Francois in 7,309 days.
Valeska Paris has not seen her brother Raphael in 3,477 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 3,058 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 3,319 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 2,357 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 2,070 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 1,595 days.
Charley Updegrove has not seen his son Toby in 1,122 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 5,685 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 2,825 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 3,145 days.
Roger Weller has not seen his daughter Alyssa in 8,001 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 3,120 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 1,475 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 5,778 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 1,884 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 2,286 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 2,158 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 1,741 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 2,236 days.
Mary Jane Barry has not seen her daughter Samantha in 2,490 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 13,599 days.


Posted by Tony Ortega on January 17, 2020 at 07:00

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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, 14 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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