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So David Miscavige is now a defendant: But can the trafficking lawsuit avoid arbitration?

[You got him, Valeska]

Naturally, after yesterday’s news that David Miscavige had finally been found by a court to be evading service in the Baxter v. Scientology labor trafficking lawsuit, and that the court had officially named him a defendant in the case, there was much rejoicing in the land.

The reaction here and Twitter and Facebook was swift and loud. Finally, Miscavige’s tricks had seemed to catch up with him.

It was especially gratifying reading the ruling by Tampa federal Magistrate Judge Julie S. Sneed, who swatted away specious arguments made by Miscavige’s attorneys that the Scientology leader shouldn’t be subject to the lawsuit because he did no business in Florida (Yes, in Florida where he has offices in the Flag Building!), or that he was just an officer of one small subsidiary just doing his job.

She noted that the plaintiffs had alleged that Miscavige is the ruthless micro-managing leader of Scientology and was responsible for the way people like Valeska Paris and the Baxters were treated in the Sea Org, both as children and as adults. (Those allegations still need to be proven, but Judge Sneed ruled that they had been alleged, and that’s what was needed at this point in the lawsuit in order to name Miscavige a defendant.)


And forevermore, other litigants can cite these words, now enshrined in a federal court docket: “Miscavige is actively concealing his whereabouts or evading service.”

Damn. It was a good day.

However, we want to caution some of our readers who thought this might immediately result in Miscavige being hauled down to the courthouse or put through a sworn deposition.

The order requires Miscavige merely to answer the lawsuit within 21 days. And that answer will be something written and submitted by an attorney. Miscavige himself won’t be going near the courthouse.

And anyway, even before Miscavige has to answer, the lawsuit itself is facing another big challenge which may make Miscavige’s being served moot anyway.

Yes, we’re talking about the arbitration issue, the bane of all litigation against the Church of Scientology in the last decade.

The lawsuit was first filed on April 28 by Valeska Paris and a married couple, Gawain and Laura Baxter, who allege that they were forced into the Sea Org as children, suffered neglect and harsh punishments as children and adults, and served as virtual prisoners aboard the ship. Valeska also alleged that she had been sexually assaulted by other Sea Org workers, and then had been punished for speaking up about it.

Scientology responded by filing motions to compel arbitration, a strategy that has largely been a successful one for the church in recent years. The church says that Valeska and the Baxters signed contracts between 2003 and 2015 that obliged them not to sue but to take their grievances to Scientology’s internal form of arbitration. Also, Scientology is pointing out that a 2013 lawsuit filed by two former Scientologists, Luis and Rocio Garcia, was forced into arbitration in the same Tampa courtroom, and it was upheld on appeal by the federal Eleventh Circuit. The same fate should apply to the trafficking lawsuit, Scientology asserts.

The plaintiffs responded that there was no valid arbitration agreement because the documents Scientology has presented are conflicting and were signed under duress, among other reasons.

Earlier this week, Judge Thomas Barber asked both sides to provide him 10-page memos to help him make a ruling on the arbitration issue.

Judge Barber is asking specifically about the question raised by the plaintiffs, that they should not be subject to contracts they signed as Sea Org members (contracts that contained arbitration clauses) because those contracts were signed under duress.

At a hearing on November 17, Judge Barber really seemed to understand this issue, and he asked one of the Scientology attorneys, if there was video literally showing a gun to the head of a Sea Org member signing one of these contracts, wouldn’t you consider that duress? The Scientology attorney replied that the contract, and its arbitration clause, would be valid anyway. It was an incredible moment.

So all right, Judge Barber seems to understand that these contracts might have been signed under duress. But what he’s asking both sides to argue is, can he even make that determination in his court? Or does he have to leave that up to the Scientology arbitrators?

It seems incredible, the idea that a federal judge, surely a powerful figure in our society, could not rule on what he plainly sees: contracts signed under duress.


But he points to two dueling Supreme Court rulings that the two sides are citing, and is asking them to wrestle with this problem. For our own edification, we turned to Scott Pilutik, the Underground Bunker’s attorney, for some help understanding the situation.

“The court is essentially asking whether it can hear the case at all. If the issue of duress concerns more than the arbitration clause, then the federal court might lack jurisdiction to hear the case if it would be more properly before an arbitrator, per the Scalia opinion.” Scott says.

Scientology’s attorneys are pointing to a 2006 Supreme Court ruling, Buckeye Check Cashing, Inc. v. Cardegna, which was written by the late Justice Antonin Scalia.

“The Scalia ruling is that the nature of the underlying dispute should determine whether a court or arbitrator can hear a dispute; if the dispute is only about the arbitration clause then a court can hear it (because if the arbitration clause itself is somehow invalid, the court needs to determine, as a threshold issue, whether the case can be heard by an arbitrator), but if the dispute implicates the entire agreement containing the arbitration clause, then the arbitrator should hear it because that’s the purpose of agreeing to arbitration in the first place — keeping arbitration disputes out of the court.”

Whew. OK. And the plaintiffs’ attorneys are pointing to an earlier, 1967 Supreme Court ruling, Prima Paint Corp. v. Flood & Conklin Mfg. Co.

“The Prima Paint case suggests that arbitration clauses are severable, which is why plaintiffs are citing it,” Scott says. But the plaintiffs did argue that many parts of the agreement are unfair, and not just the arbitration clause.

“There’s a kind of chicken-and-egg problem because they’re likely arguing that routing this through a Scientology arbitrator would be egregiously unfair,” he says, and he’s certainly right about that.

Well, we admitted to him that we were finding this very hard to follow. If it’s just the arbitration clause that is disputed, then under Prima Paint it could be ruled on by the judge, but if it’s the entire agreement that is disputed, then that must be heard by the arbitrator, as Buckeye found?

“It’s hard to wrap your head around, even for lawyers, because the facts in both cases there don’t quite mirror this one as to what the parties are asking for,” Scott says.

And we guess that’s why Judge Barber wants both sides to wrestle with this question in 10-page memos that are due on February 27.

You will then see Scientology’s high-priced lawyers doing everything they can to convince a federal judge that, based on an Antonin Scalia ruling, he simply has no right to rule on what he sees before his very eyes: That children, children, were forced into slavery by the Church of Scientology.

Just incredible.



Technology Cocktail

“The reason that we object to ‘squirrels,’ people like the Communist Association of Dianetic Auditors in California, is because they do not pay their way. We find their papers full of the materials which were hard won by myself and the central organizations and yet we have nothing but debits on our records to show that they passed our way.” — L. Ron Hubbard, 1956



We first broke the news of the LAPD’s investigation of Scientology celebrity Danny Masterson on rape allegations in 2017, and we’ve been covering the story every step of the way since then. At this page we’ve collected our most important links as Danny faces a potential sentence of 45 years to life in prison. NOW WITH TRIAL INDEX.


THE PODCAST: How many have you heard?

— The Underground Bunker Podcast

[1] Marc Headley [2] Claire Headley [3] Jeffrey Augustine [4] Bruce Hines [5] Sunny Pereira [6] Pete Griffiths [7] Geoff Levin [8] Patty Moher [9] Marc Headley [10] Jefferson Hawkins [11] Michelle ‘Emma’ Ryan [12] Paulette Cooper [13] Jesse Prince [14] Mark Bunker [15] Jon Atack [16] Mirriam Francis [17] Bruce Hines on MSH

— SPECIAL: The best TV show on Scientology you never got to see

[1] Phil Jones [2] Derek Bloch [3] Carol Nyburg [4] Katrina Reyes [5] Jamie DeWolf


— SPECIAL: Your Proprietor’s updates on the Danny Masterson trial

[1] Sep 21 [2] Sep 28 [3] Oct 4 [4] Oct 10 [5] Oct 11: Day One [6] Oct 12: Day Two [7] Oct 13: Day Three [8] Oct 17: Day Four [9] Oct 18: Day Five [10] Oct 19: Day Six [11] Special interview with Chris Shelton, Oct 19 [12] Oct 20: Day Seven [13] Oct 21: Day Eight [14] First week in review, with Jeffrey Augustine [15] Oct 24: Day Nine [16] Oct 25: Day Ten [17] Oct 27: Day Eleven [18] Oct 28: Day Twelve [19] Second week in review, with Jeffrey Augustine [20] Halloween special [21] Nov 2: Day Thirteen [22] Nov 3: Day Fourteen [23] Nov 4: Day Fifteen [24] Third week in review [25] Nov 5, Saturday special [26] Nov 6, Sunday special [27] Nov 7, Day Sixteen [28] Lisa Marie Presley breaking news [29] Nov 8, Day Seventeen [30] Nov 9, Day Eighteen [31] Nov 10, Day Nineteen


Source Code

“Greece, in its Golden Age, could be said to have been at Tone 4. Perhaps in the first days of this country, when we were searching out a wilderness and building the nation, we could be said to have been at Tone 4. A nation follows in its cycles the same tone scale as individuals. A person can be as high as Greece was, or in a state of apathy as were the American Indians when they were destroyed as a nation. You can tell just what the mental health of a nation is by observing its actions. A country like Russia that is always angry is at 1.5 or 2. It is either angry or in a state of war. If a human being were in this band he would be titled insane. A state in this band could not help being a police state. The United States for a while was rather bored but getting along. However, this last war reduced us to around 2.1, which is rather overtly hostile — ready to fight. We are drifting back down the tone scale. Between here and death is totalitarianism.” — L. Ron Hubbard, February 15, 1951


Avast, Ye Mateys

“The actual value of a trained SO member is very high, yet is not being assigned a value. The wogworld tends to impress on people that the individual has no value. Welfare states deplore having people. Yet we run on and because of people. The value is actually too high to be calculated easily. Because value to self is all the wide world thinks of. Value to the group is discounted. Yet the whole value of a being is to his group and not to himself at all. The aberrated think of modern times says one has no real value to the group. Yet that is a being’s greatest value. We should work more on these lines in a practical sense.” — The Commodore, February 15, 1971


Overheard in the FreeZone

“Whenever Scientology doesn’t work it gets blamed on out-tech. Sometimes it might be the case, but Scientology itself is faulty. Hubbard never mentioned when things didn’t work from day one, for example in the Dianetics book he didn’t mention how some people can’t find engrams. They just can’t. He made out it was super easy to learn and works amazingly, but in the real world Dianetics didn’t pan out that way and Clear kinda doesn’t even exist.”



Past is Prologue

1997: Scientology’s celebrities performed in an anti-Germany segment on the TV show Entertainment Tonight “There have been government-supported boycotts of Travolta’s movie ‘Phenomenon,’ and Cruise’s ‘Mission: Impossible.’ America recognizes Scientology as a non-profit religion with some eight million members, who are encouraged to believe in God. The controversy hovers around Scientology charging money for courses that offer help in such things as reaching goals, and relationships. Anne Archer relates her tale: ‘I was pretty shocked. The situation was much worse than I anticipated. When I spoke in the town square, I got very scared. For one moment there was some hostility. There was an irrational person who started yelling, and stirred up some. They could sort of hear what I was talking about. Stirred up some negativity.'”


Random Howdy

“Jenna Elfman is jihadi-level crazy. She wouldn’t hesitate to go on a martyr mission if D.M. ordered her to.”


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

Criminal prosecutions:
Danny Masterson charged for raping three women: Mistrial declared November 30. Retrial scheduled, jury selection begins March 29. Next pretrial hearing: Feb 16.
‘Lafayette Ronald Hubbard’ (a/k/a Justin Craig), aggravated assault, plus drug charges: Grand jury indictments include charges from an assault while in custody. Next pretrial hearing Feb 13.
Rizza Islam, Medi-Cal fraud: Trial scheduled for March 1 in Los Angeles
David Gentile, GPB Capital, fraud: Next status conference Feb 13.

Civil litigation:
Baxter, Baxter, and Paris v. Scientology, alleging labor trafficking: Complaint filed April 28 in Tampa federal court, Scientology moving to compel arbitration. Plaintiffs filed amended complaint on August 2. Hearing November 17 to argue the arbitration motions, awaiting ruling.
Valerie Haney v. Scientology: Forced to ‘religious arbitration.’ Selection of arbitrators underway. Next court hearing: March 15, 2023.
Chrissie Bixler et al. v. Scientology and Danny Masterson: Appellate court removes requirement of arbitration on January 19, case remanded back to Superior Court. Stay in place at least through February 7.
Author Steve Cannane defamation trial: New trial ordered after appeals court overturned prior ruling.
Chiropractors Steve Peyroux and Brent Detelich, stem cell fraud: Lawsuit filed by the FTC and state of Georgia in August, now in discovery phase.



After the success of their double-Emmy-winning, three-season A&E series ‘Scientology and the Aftermath,’ Leah Remini and Mike Rinder continue the conversation on their podcast, ‘Scientology: Fair Game.’ We’ve created a landing page where you can hear all of the episodes so far.


An episode-by-episode guide to Leah Remini’s three-season, double-Emmy winning series that changed everything for Scientology watching. Originally aired from 2016 to 2019 on the A&E network, and now on Netflix.


Find your favorite Hubbardite celeb at this index page — or suggest someone to add to the list!

Other links: SCIENTOLOGY BLACK OPS: Tom Cruise and dirty tricks. Scientology’s Ideal Orgs, from one end of the planet to the other. 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 a weekly series. How many have you read?


[ONE year ago] How Scientology kills without pulling a trigger: The story of a sister who was loved
[TWO years ago] Scientology spying on Anonymous: Leaked from the files of a church private eye
[THREE years ago] DRONE FLYOVER: First look at Scientology’s drug rehab at Larry Hagman’s estate
[FOUR years ago] The Axioms of Dianetics: L. Ron Hubbard’s science-y foundation of Scientology ‘tech’
[FIVE years ago] Scientology mag: Why aren’t you in Florida already dumping all that sweet cash?
[SIX years ago] Federal judge once again finds for Scientology’s nonexistent and Orwellian ‘arbitration’
[SEVEN years ago] Chuck Beatty is right: L. Ron Hubbard lofted culty cosmic ideas a decade before ‘Dianetics’
[EIGHT years ago] Scientology Sunday Funnies: New ‘Continental’ Narconons opening soon?
[NINE years ago] Did John Travolta reveal too much about Scientology?
[TEN years ago] Blogging Dianetics, Part 7: The Hard Cell


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 2,941 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 3,446 days
Sylvia Wagner DeWall has not seen her brother Randy in 2,996 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 1,986 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 1,877 days.
Christie Collbran has not seen her mother Liz King in 5,181 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 3,052 days.
Doug Kramer has not seen his parents Linda and Norm in 2,157 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 4,634 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 3,946 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 12,512 days.
Melissa Paris has not seen her father Jean-Francois in 8,431 days.
Valeska Paris has not seen her brother Raphael in 4,599 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 4,180 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 4,441 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 3,478 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 3,193 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 2,757 days.
Julian Wain has not seen his brother Joseph or mother Susan in 1,072 days.
Charley Updegrove has not seen his son Toby in 2,247 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 6,798 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 3,929 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 4,267 days.
Roger Weller has not seen his daughter Alyssa in 9,122 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 4,241 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 2,597 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 6,900 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 3,006 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 3,404 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 3,280 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 2,863 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 3,358 days.
Mary Jane Barry has not seen her daughter Samantha in 3,612 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 14,721 days.


Posted by Tony Ortega on February 15, 2023 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, 1995-2021 Just starting out here? We’ve picked out the most important stories we’ve covered here at the Underground Bunker (2012-2021), 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, 15 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


Tony Ortega at The Daily Beast


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