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Eleventh Circuit will hear oral arguments in key Scientology ‘religious arbitration’ case

[Coming this July: The Garcias and the Eleventh Circuit in Atlanta]

We haven’t heard anything about the Garcias’ appeal at the Eleventh Circuit in a long time, but now there’s a significant development. The court has announced that it will hear oral arguments from both sides in Atlanta the week of July 27.

Luis and Rocio Garcia and their legal ordeal has been a case we’ve watched closely since they first filed their federal fraud lawsuit against the Church of Scientology in 2013. But it’s especially important now because in subsequent litigation Scientology has pointed to it repeatedly as a precedent that it wants courts to pay attention to.

The Garcias were longtime Scientologists in Orange County, California who claimed that they had been lied to by Scientology in order to get large donations out of them. But Tampa federal judge James Whittemore ruled that because the Garcias had signed “religious” membership contracts that had them promising to take any grievances to Scientology’s internal “religious arbitration,” then his hands were tied and he couldn’t even consider the Garcias’ claims. As a federal court judge, Whittemore ruled, he simply couldn’t consider the justice of the internal rules of something that called itself a church.

Whittemore put the lawsuit on hold and forced the Garcias to submit to the arbitration, which took place in Los Angeles in October 2017 (Whittemore even helped select the arbitrators, who had to be Scientologists in good standing). The Garcias described it as a kangaroo court and turned down the arbitrating panel’s finding that they should be paid $18,000 of the hundreds of thousands they were asking for.

In their appeal, the Garcias are asking the Eleventh Circuit to find that Whittemore erred, and to overrule his decision and restore their lawsuit. Scientology may call itself a church, but signing a contract shouldn’t keep a former member from getting their day in court if the church caused them real harm, the Garcias argue. Scientology disagrees and wants the appellate court to uphold Whittemore’s decision, but they have their own gripe with Whittemore: Scientology is cross-appealing and wants the court to rule that Whittemore should have thrown the Garcia lawsuit out even before he forced them into religious arbitration based on jurisdictional matters.


But another reason why this case is important is that Scientology has repeatedly cited it in other litigation, hoping to repeat its gambit of derailing a lawsuit in favor of its own brand of internal arbitration.

Scientology cited the Garcia case, for example, when it also sought, successfully, to force Leah Remini’s assistant, Valerie Haney, into religious arbitration earlier this year. And it’s trying to do the same with four of the five plaintiffs in the lawsuit against Scientology and actor Danny Masterson, as well as a lawsuit filed in Miami against the church brought by a young woman, Jane Doe, who says she was sexually abused as a child working for the church.

In each case, Scientology is pointing to Whittemore’s decision in the Garcia case as a precedent it wants to see repeated.

In July, the Garcias will get their chance to battle back, with their attorneys getting to make oral arguments before the federal appeals court. We’re looking forward to it.


Bonus items from our tipsters

Dianetics through the roof: Are you buying this?


Scientology, which denies germ theory, continues its PR program. Actual caption, from Dublin VMs: “Masks, gloves and hand sanitiser delivered to Sally Park Nursing Home today.”



Clear #73,611, Sefi Fischler’s actual caption: “@fuck_corona” (Well, we can certainly agree with him on that.)


And, more free Scientology video courses in the time of coronavirus! This time from Dublin. Here’s “How Stress Effects Your Health & Well Being”…


…and “How to Improve Self-Confidence”…




Source Code

“Under this particular zone in Scientology right now, we have, oddly enough, culminated — and this is hard to believe, because it is such a wildly embracive figure — we have culminated in anything that was desirable in the fields of religion, mysticism, spiritualism, or mental sciences. Anything desirable in those particular fields have been discovered and culminated in the field of Scientology right now. That’s why I say it’s rather hard to believe, but you look at it, that’s true. So we do have valuable subject materials. Now, that job is complete. And so, number one of these, course management, as far as we’re concerned, on a Scientology course, that is complete. We’re even throwing away material now which would have been enough to have made a complete science and revolutionized middle Europe, you know, two hundred years ago.” — L. Ron Hubbard, April 10, 1959


Overheard in the FreeZone

“So this is what’s really going on in regards to the virus event. To fully understand it you need to understand that a cult basically runs planet Earth. Top evil dudes are in it. They are in communication with what you could call the dark side of the force, or the devil basically. Or evil gods is exactly what they are. These evil gods direct them telepathically (put ideas in their heads). These ideas involve encouraging them to turn Earth into some type of futuristic electronic 1984 sci fi movie. So right now we are being changed as a society into a new world that is a police state electronic 1984. To change the world into this new world it requires them to do fake pandemics. Otherwise without these events it would take way, way longer. So they create fake pandemics and fake school shootings in order to have excuses to bring in new changes…As L Ron Hubbard said ‘doing something is better than doing nothing.’ Therefore we fight, we resist, and we do not go into any lockdowns. Are you going to let this cult (called Illuminati, by the way) abuse the economy?”


Random Howdy

“I wear shorts and combat boots to the beach. Who am I kidding, I never go to the beach even though I live right near it. It’s full of gangbangers, junkies, alkies and crackheads.”


Full Court Press: What we’re watching at the Underground Bunker

Criminal prosecutions:
Jay Spina: Sentencing was set for April 3 in White Plains
Hanan and Rizza Islam and other family members: Trial set for April 14 in Los Angeles

Civil litigation:
Luis and Rocio Garcia v. Scientology: Waiting for an appellate decision from the Eleventh Circuit
Valerie Haney v. Scientology: Forced to ‘religious arbitration.’ Hearing on motion for reconsideration set for June 17
Chrissie Bixler et al. v. Scientology and Danny Masterson: April 22 (plaintiff attorneys pro hac vice), May 1 (Masterson new demurrer due), July 24 (motions to compel arbitration)
Jane Doe v. Scientology (in Miami): Jane Doe’s attorneys have asked for discovery, depositions (Warren McShane, Lynn Farny), April 20 hearing set (motion to compel arbitration)
Matt and Kathy Feschbach bankruptcy appeal: Oral arguments were heard on March 11 in Jacksonville
Brian Statler Sr v. City of Inglewood: Amended complaint filed.


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] LEAKED: Scientology’s secret playbook for world domination!
[TWO years ago] Before Scientology was a ‘church,’ L. Ron Hubbard said religion controlled people with lies
[THREE years ago] Why Scientology’s Erika Christensen can play a Christian convert on the big screen
[FOUR years ago] Spider-Man goes drug-free for Scientology, and more in our weekly social media review!
[FIVE years ago] L. Ron Hubbard’s Navy record: Chris Owen critiques the ‘Business Insider’ story
[SIX years ago] Is a Scientology front group among those fighting a European effort against ‘sects’?
[SEVEN years ago] Brit Writer’s 27 Years in Scientology is Suddenly News in France — Our Man in Paris Explains Why
[EIGHT years ago] Is Lisa Marie Presley Telling Off Scientology in a Song?


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 1,903 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 2,407 days
Sylvia Wagner DeWall has not seen her brother Randy in 1,927 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 947 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 838 days.
Christie Collbran has not seen her mother Liz King in 4,145 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 2,013 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 2,787 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 3,561 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 2,907 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 11,473 days.
Melissa Paris has not seen her father Jean-Francois in 7,392 days.
Valeska Paris has not seen her brother Raphael in 3,560 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 3,141 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 3,402 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 2,440 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 2,153 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 1,678 days.
Charley Updegrove has not seen his son Toby in 1,208 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 5,768 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 2,908 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 3,228 days.
Roger Weller has not seen his daughter Alyssa in 8,083 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 3,203 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 1,558 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 5,861 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 1,967 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 2,369 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 2,241 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 1,824 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 2,319 days.
Mary Jane Barry has not seen her daughter Samantha in 2,573 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 13,682 days.


Posted by Tony Ortega on April 10, 2020 at 07:00

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, 1995-2019 Just starting out here? We’ve picked out the most important stories we’ve covered here at the Underground Bunker (2012-2019), 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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