SCIENTOLOGY FILES FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT AGAINST DEBBIE COOK

Free to shine

Shiny & Free
http://blogs.villagevoice.com/runninscared/2012/03/scientology_fil.php

​As they promised, Scientology's attorneys have filed for summary judgment in their lawsuit against former church executive Debbie Cook, and we have the document for you.

Here's our first impression: After Cook's explosive testimony in a Bexar County, Texas courtroom made news around the world and has more people than ever talking about the shocking and strange abuse allegedly dished out by Scientology's leader, David Miscavige, the church's attorneys are trying their best to convince a San Antonio judge that this is a much drier, less interesting dispute, summed up best in one of their opening lines:

"This is a dispute regarding the enforcement of contracts."

We figure speed is of the essence and that you'd rather read the document itself than anything else, so we're going to post it as quickly as we can, and then add more analysis when we have a chance. So here we go... (There are 33 pages, posted now. And yes, we know we're missing page 23 -- we're trying to get it for you.)

Click the above link to see the actual documents.

Well done Tony O!


Comment:
John P. 10 minutes ago

First, it should be noted that motions for summary judgment are more routine than they sound. I've talked with attorneys involved in defending large commercial lawsuits, and asked about why plaintiffs file summary judgment motions that seem ludicrously unlikely to succeed. I've been told that sometimes it's almost an admission of the weakness of your case if you're a plaintiff and you fail to file a summary judgment motion. So while we'll probably have more than a few laughs dissecting this document, I'd encourage other readers not to get too concerned that this will be granted.

In this particular motion, more so even than in others I've seen, what's not said is the most important thing. They're downplaying what the defense began to bring up in testimony at the hearing in February: that the contract is unenforceable because it was signed under duress.

The "admissions" in the recent countersuit filing strongly hint that Mr. Jeffery will also show that Debbie Cook's e-mail was constitutionally protected religious speech because it involves a legitimate debate over application of "scripture" -- and legitimate religious debate is not "disparagement" covered by the agreement. The questions about whether licking bathroom floors is legitimate spiritual practice is an attempt to paint the church as having unclean hands -- they can't accuse her of breaking the agreement because they didn't follow their own religious practices in dealing with her. There are probably other strategies that the countersuit filing hints at. Once again, it would be fun to get Scott Pilutik to comment.

The other reason that one party in a trial may move for summary judgment is to eliminate or restrict discovery, the process of demanding documents from the other side and taking depositions of witnesses. If a motion for summary judgment is denied, then the discovery phase begins. The Church's attorneys probably know that anybody put on the stand would be shredded by Mr. Jeffery and would embarrass the Church in a major PR fiasco, especially if David Miscavige were somehow compelled to testify.

So when the motion for summary judgment is heard, I would look for Mr. Spencer and the other Church attorneys to try to use the motion to restrict discovery as much as possible, and I would look for Mr. Jeffery to try to put into play as many different defense strategies as he can in order to enable as broad a discovery fishing trip as possible. If Mr. Jeffery is successful in keeping discovery fairly broad, given the way that documents in the case have been published broadly, that would clearly give him substantial additional leverage to pursue a settlement on behalf of Debbie and Wayne. It will also mean endless opportunities for snark and levity at the expense of Scientology as each deposition transcript and source document are published.

Because of the issue of breadth of discovery, also look for Church attorneys to fight viciously to have all discovery materials provided under seal, and expect Mr. Jeffery to oppose that just as aggressively.

Break out the popcorn!
 

Free to shine

Shiny & Free
One bit:

"Defendant's affirmative defense of "duress, undue influence" at paragraph 3 of their original answer is without any conceivable merit as a matter of law ...such claims of duress and coercion are immaterial."

Gonna be interesting.
 

Lone Star

Crusader
One bit:
"Defendant's affirmative defense of "duress, undue influence" at paragraph 3 of their original answer is without any conceivable merit as a matter of law ...such claims of duress and coercion are immaterial."

That's like saying, "Okay Judge nothing to see here...let's move along now".

But I think it could have just the opposite effect on the Judge. He or she may think, "Oh really? I'll determine as to whether there's any 'conceivable merit as a matter of law'. Summary judgement denied."

At least that's what I hope. :yes:
 

Free to shine

Shiny & Free
John P has added some more commentary;

John P. 7 minutes ago in reply to John P.

I posted the above when only a few pages of the document appeared on the blog post. Now that the full document is available, a couple of additional things come to mind:

First, there are several legitimate controversies that could easily cause the summary judgment motion to be denied. First and foremost is the matter of whether the specific questions in e-mail are actually disparaging. Unsurprisingly, the Church takes the position that any public speech of any kind from Debbie Cook is disparaging. Given that the substance of her e-mail was a series of questions about whether specific "Scripture” policies of the organization were being applied correctly, it is unclear that speech would meet the literal definition of disparagement. In any case, there is enough controversy over that issue alone to drive the case to trial.

Second, much of the argument is about whether she disclosed confidential materials. This is a standard provision of most non-disclosure agreements. You can't reveal sensitive financial information, personnel decisions, or any other information that any company would reasonably expect to be kept confidential. These provisions are typically to prevent circumstances like a former employee taking financial or strategic planning information to a competing employer, who could then use it to gain an unfair advantage. Debbie Cook's e-mail did not talk about anything like that. It only asked questions of a "theological" nature. And the "Scripture" she referenced has been publicly available for decades. As an example, page 15 says that the simple questioning of fund-raising activities involve the disclosure of confidential information. That seems a bit of a stretch.

Argument II, beginning on page 22, claims that because Debbie Cook and her husband did not seek to cancel the agreement for four years, that they were no longer under duress, and thus implies that any breach of the agreement is willful and voluntary. It'll be interesting to see what Mr. Jeffrey does with that argument. The e-mails that Debbie sent between the time that her letter was published and the time the suit was filed suggested that she knew exactly what would happen to her. So my guess is that Mr. Jeffrey will argue that she was under duress the whole time in the intervening four years, because she predicted accurately what would happen when she went public with her e-mail. Debbie may have evidence that she was followed by OSA or otherwise harassed by the Church in the intervening four years, which would embarrass the church when presented as testimony, and which would certainly torpedo this claim.

Lastly, the Prayer for Relief sounds to me like it contains an implicit offer to settle. I had to read this a couple of times to be sure. Essentially, what this section says is that Scientology would like summary judgment on any or all of the following three things:

1) that Debbie Cook and Wayne Baumgarten breached the agreement (in which case, the trial would be restricted to determining the amount of damages, and the church would likely plead for near-infinite money as a result), and/or

2) that Debbie and Wayne cannot use duress as a defense (again, David Miscavige's obsession with denying them the right to defend themselves), and/or

3) the declaration that they owe Scientology $300,000. Not "at least," but exactly that amount.

This last provision seems odd, because a literal reading of the original agreement that Debbie and Wayne signed provides for far more damages for each count of disclosure. So if the church is willing to put in play a summary judgment of $300,000 and is willing to stipulate that there were only three breaches of the agreement, then that is a hint that they would be willing to settle for this amount. I would have expected them to count each news service that carried a story about the original e-mail or that carried an interview to be cited as an example, with as outlandish a named figure as possible.

I doubt Debbie and Wayne are going to settle for $300,000 even if they had the money. But it is interesting that the church is willing to settle for far less than what you would expect them to ask for, given DM’s legendary "take no prisoners" approach. That may indicate some perception among the attorneys, particularly the outside attorneys, that their case is not as strong as the thunderously righteous rhetoric in the rest of the document makes it sound.



t1kk 5 minutes ago

The most interesting argument is that factual questions of duress and coercion are immaterial because Cook/Baumgarten ratified the agreement. Remember that to win at summary judgment there can be no disputable issues of fact--so Scientology is trying to dispose of the duress/coercion defenses by arguing that they lost the right to those defenses when they (a) accepted the money; and (b) four years went by prior to the breach. It's an argument with problems; for one thing, the duress never fully passed, so long as Scientology held over Cook/Baumgarten the express and implied threat that they'd have no contact with their family. Second, the quotes from the cited cases (which I've not read) seem off point and very possibly are inapplicable to the instant matter.

It's also worth noting that there are other defenses available to Cook/Baumgarten which do not involve duress/coercion and would fall outside the scope of Scientology's ratification argument, assuming it was successful. Cook/Baumgarten could/should argue that there was no breach, that their criticism only touched on religious matters (and matters which are always "religious" to Scientology in contexts where that view benefits them). Somewhat related, they could/should argue that Cook's email was protected religious speech and for a court to even attempt to interpret such language as a possible breach impermissibly entangles the court in a religious dispute, violating the Constitution. And they could/should argue that the contract is not valid on bases other than coercion and duress, such as unconscionability. The possibility of these defenses rely on facts not yet before the court and thus prevent this case from being decided at summary judgment.

Dean Fox

Perhaps the trickiest part is the additional payment of 65xx.xx after the coercion admittedly stopped.

Even if coercion goes away there is the matter of the content of the email actually revealing confidential materials, being disparaging and damaging.

We need David Miscavige on the stand to explain how an organisation that he says is growing is damaged? All those new buildings still being opened for all those new parisoners that are joining daily. How is that damage? There is no evidence of damage, quite the contrary.

I still think the coercion is an aspect; the ever present threat of disconnection but that extra payment may take that off the table.

Either way the virtually tacit admission that coercion did take place is good.

Jgg 2 minutes ago

As defined in Black's Law Dictionary (7th ed. 1999), disparagement is "A false and injurious statement that discredits or detracts from the reputation of another's property, product, or business. To recover in tort for disparagement, the plaintiff must prove that the statement caused a third party to take some action resulting in specific pecuniary loss to the plaintiff."So, there cannot be summary judgment unless the email criticizing Miscavige was clearly false and, if anything, it was clearly true--all of the abuses she mentioned are well-known on the web and have never been denied under oath by David Miscavige. At the very least, the motion should have an affidavit by Miscavige denying the truth of the allegations. Such an affidavit would be expected. The court will wonder why it is not there, and where is Mr. Miscavige?


The comments are coming thick and fast...forgive me I do love VV comments section. :)
 

Idle Morgue

Gold Meritorious Patron
I believe for a "contract" to be valid, the person has to agree without any duress. Now let's look at the FACTS:

1. Debbie Cook had no legal counsel and did not get to leave the base, read the "gag" order in her own time and understand it with legal representation, negotiate it, take out parts she did not agree to like the $50K in exchange for the 30 years of slavery for $50/week, etc. So, this is where it should get real interesting.

2. WHAT IS THE CHURCH HIDING? We all know now based on their response to her e-mail. The damages it costs the Church is now the IDLE mORGues will be even MORE EMPTY than ever! Also, there will be no one joining SO or staff. 'PRICELESS':yes:

The Co$ answer to EVERYONE that complains is "bitter defrocked apostate". The button is worn out guys. The jig is up!

The spokesperson for the Co$ on Nightline writes (notice they do not appear in person :nervous:) about the "unprecedented expansion and 20+/- new churches have opened up". Why don't they video the empty course rooms and HGC's? We are talking about HUMAN TRAFFICKING, SLAVE LABOR, TORTURE AND MENTAL AND EMOTIONAL DURESS BY DM! Hello, is anyone home? Even a priest in a catholic church gets three hots and a cot to himself. He gets a car and some nice shoes and a bit more than $50 / week and also they take care of him after he has served his "ecclesiastical duties". If he messes up (molesting little boys), they help him. That is the type of Church I thought I was joining.

The Co$ is not a CHURCH. There is nothing religious about this organization. I have not felt the love since the reg got my credit card and maxed it out. It is all smoke and mirrors and I am glad I peeked behind the curtain. That is FREEDOM! I will never join any group that tells me I can't look! One has to evaluate both sides of a coin before he knows what the hell he has!

Sea Org members do not even know they have any rights to legal counsel. If the whopping $50K for 30 years of "ecclesiastical duties" pays out $50K to EVERYONE, I am sure everyone will be running to join the SO. They don't pay everyone. Just the ones they want to SHUT UP about the crimes they have been part of or witnessed. :grouch: God bless the internet! Thank you for FREEDOM of speech, freedom to look and to know the truth. The truth sets you free - :screwy: not the bridge to total SMASH!
 

Lone Star

Crusader
John P. 10 minutes ago

"First, it should be noted that motions for summary judgment are more routine than they sound. I've talked with attorneys involved in defending large commercial lawsuits, and asked about why plaintiffs file summary judgment motions that seem ludicrously unlikely to succeed. I've been told that sometimes it's almost an admission of the weakness of your case if you're a plaintiff and you fail to file a summary judgment motion..."

I agree with what John P. wrote here on the VV. However, I think that in this case Summary Judgment is the only hope DM has, and he is desperate to get it. He will not go through the Discovery phase of an impending jury trial. Debbie Cook's counter-suit makes this summary judgment even more imperative for DM to win. If CoS loses the SJ, then her lawyer can say, "We can make our suit go away if you make yours go away. I'm a gonna call your ass to the stand if you insist on not dropping it. So what's it gonna be....punk? Go ahead, make our day!"
 

Rene Descartes

Gold Meritorious Patron
My wife is well studied in legal matters having graduated with utmost honors from the university she attended.

She asked me about the case and I gave her as much of an abbreviated version of the events.

A few things of note that she mentioned upon hearing some of the story.

When I told her how Cook and her Husband were told that they were being brought to a certain location in Clearwater but were instead transported to the Hacienda place that had security code entry and exit, guards, cameras and bars on the windows, she blurted out "That's kidnapping"

When I told her about the discussion on ESMB about "Undue Influence" she said that this has the makings of Undue Influence in it.

When I told her about the Church's attorney wanting to get a Summary Judgement she said that given the defense's claims she can't see a judge handing out a Summary Judgement to have the damages paid.

My wife got a kick out of the questions that Cook's attorney's put forth with the counter suit.

When I told my wife about Spencer's claims about Rathbun and Rinder, she said that is not a simple claim to make about them having priviledged and confidential information because it may very well have nothing to do with the case.

She thinks that the PIs on Jeffrey are to see who is contacting Jeffrey and see if anyone is potentially giving out what they consider to be priviledged information to Jeffrey. But she does find it odd that a Church has to do something of this nature.

She agrees that the Church is not painting a good picture of itself by doing all that it is doing.

She also said that when more and more people come forth with stories about abuse it raises a serious question that there might indeed be something amiss going on.

She also said that with Cook's Fibromyalgia kicking her down it is understandable that she would have wanted to get out and would have signed anything to get out of there.

She did a double take when I told her that Spencer told the judge the video would be difficult to produce and then that the other attorney pulled it out of his briefcase.

I told her about how Spncer was complaining that someone was giving documents to Ortega to put up on the internet but that at the same time the Church was posting things to the internet about Debbie Cook. She thought that was funny.

I told her about Rathbun and Rinder and the beatings of the past and how Rinder's wife was on a show calling him a liar. She stopped me and said "He left the Church and his wife is still in it?" I told her ex-wife.

She said a lot of what is going on does not look good for the Church.

I explained about Sea Org personnel vesting 20, 25, 30 years into the Church and how if they leave some of them really have nothing out there. She comprehended.

I explained the concept of lost eternity using a heaven, hell, nirvana type of analopgy. She has enough background on this now to lend more legal knowledge into the forray.

We shall discuss this more in the future.

Till then, tally ho

Rd00
 

Lulu Belle

Moonbat
The comments are coming thick and fast...forgive me I do love VV comments section. :)

Oh me too! IMO, one of the best thing about Tony's blog is the comments section. Some incredibly smart people there. A bunch of legal beagles on this one tonight, which is great. Wonderful reading.

Tony himself obviously loves it also; he generally devotes a column a week to the "best of comments". :)
 
Oh me too! IMO, one of the best thing about Tony's blog is the comments section. Some incredibly smart people there. A bunch of legal beagles on this one tonight, which is great. Wonderful reading.

Tony himself obviously loves it also; he generally devotes a column a week to the "best of comments". :)

I'm 60 +, and I was reading the Village Voice when I was 16, and lived in California. It is terrific, and always has been.
 

NoName

A Girl Has No Name
Oh me too! IMO, one of the best thing about Tony's blog is the comments section. Some incredibly smart people there. A bunch of legal beagles on this one tonight, which is great. Wonderful reading.

Tony himself obviously loves it also; he generally devotes a column a week to the "best of comments". :)

YES! And I love that at least a couple of the commenters seem much more knowledgeable about First Amendment issues than me.

RD - I too believe that substantive & procedural duress will play heavily into this. It's a truly beautiful irony that Der Dwarfenfuhrer opened the doors to this discussion of abuse by attempting to pursue a claim on this totally ridiculous contract.

So begins the Golden Age of Fail! :hysterical:
 

LA SCN

NOT drinking the kool-aid
My wife is well studied in legal matters having graduated with utmost honors from the university she attended.

She asked me about the case and I gave her as much of an abbreviated version of the events.

A few things of note that she mentioned upon hearing some of the story.

When I told her how Cook and her Husband were told that they were being brought to a certain location in Clearwater but were instead transported to the Hacienda place that had security code entry and exit, guards, cameras and bars on the windows, she blurted out "That's kidnapping"

When I told her about the discussion on ESMB about "Undue Influence" she said that this has the makings of Undue Influence in it.

When I told her about the Church's attorney wanting to get a Summary Judgement she said that given the defense's claims she can't see a judge handing out a Summary Judgement to have the damages paid.

My wife got a kick out of the questions that Cook's attorney's put forth with the counter suit.

When I told my wife about Spencer's claims about Rathbun and Rinder, she said that is not a simple claim to make about them having priviledged and confidential information because it may very well have nothing to do with the case.

She thinks that the PIs on Jeffrey are to see who is contacting Jeffrey and see if anyone is potentially giving out what they consider to be priviledged information to Jeffrey. But she does find it odd that a Church has to do something of this nature.

She agrees that the Church is not painting a good picture of itself by doing all that it is doing.

She also said that when more and more people come forth with stories about abuse it raises a serious question that there might indeed be something amiss going on.

She also said that with Cook's Fibromyalgia kicking her down it is understandable that she would have wanted to get out and would have signed anything to get out of there.

She did a double take when I told her that Spencer told the judge the video would be difficult to produce and then that the other attorney pulled it out of his briefcase.

I told her about how Spncer was complaining that someone was giving documents to Ortega to put up on the internet but that at the same time the Church was posting things to the internet about Debbie Cook. She thought that was funny.

I told her about Rathbun and Rinder and the beatings of the past and how Rinder's wife was on a show calling him a liar. She stopped me and said "He left the Church and his wife is still in it?" I told her ex-wife.

She said a lot of what is going on does not look good for the Church.

I explained about Sea Org personnel vesting 20, 25, 30 years into the Church and how if they leave some of them really have nothing out there. She comprehended.

I explained the concept of lost eternity using a heaven, hell, nirvana type of analopgy. She has enough background on this now to lend more legal knowledge into the forray.

We shall discuss this more in the future.

Till then, tally ho

Rd00

Well I didn't know you were married! :biggrin:

How did she ever let you get involved in such a bogus enterprise as hubbardism? :omg:

:hysterical:

Hey, really, great post and keep up the good work! :thumbsup:
 

Rene Descartes

Gold Meritorious Patron
Well I didn't know you were married! :biggrin:

How did she ever let you get involved in such a bogus enterprise as hubbardism? :omg:

:hysterical:

Hey, really, great post and keep up the good work! :thumbsup:

I met her a few years after I squeezed myself away from the Church.

She has helped me much in my education of the world outside of the Hubbardistic confines of the Church.

When I squeezed away I was determined to find a non-scientologist wife who knew how to make things go right without having the obssesive compulsive desire to use Hubbardistic drivel to do so.

Oh dear, is that a serfac?

Rd00
 
YES! And I love that at least a couple of the commenters seem much more knowledgeable about First Amendment issues than me...
And there's also the humor to keep things light:
The following comment by BrainSlugged inspired the following shoop:

I keep dreaming of little Miscavige taking the stand in his toy soldier outfit
and giving us a "A Few Good Men" moment.

----------------------------------------------------------------------
"You want the truth? You can't handle the truth!

We live in a world that has spirits of dead aliens floating around. And dead alien spirits have to be eradicated by men with tin cans, and cool-looking outfits.
Who's gonna do it? You? You, Judge?

I have a greater responsibility than you could possibly fathom. You weep for Lisa McPherson and Shelly Miscavige, and you curse the $cientologists.
You have that luxury. You have the luxury of not being the ultimate authority on psychiatry. That Lisa and Shelly’s deaths, while an inconvenience, probably saved lives. And my existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, saves lives.

You don't want the truth because deep down in places you don't talk about at parties, you want me and Tom Cruise on those bespoke motorbikes tricked out by the hard labor of my Sea Org slaves.
You NEED us on those bikes.

We use words like enturbulate, entheta, ethics. We use these words as the backbone of a life spent following the rambling words of a drug-addled schizophrenic drug addict.
You use them as a punchline.

I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very freedom that I provide, and then questions the manner in which I provide it.

I would rather you just said thank you, and went on your way, Otherwise, I suggest you pick up a set of cans, remortgage your house and sign a billion year contract. Either way, I don't give a damn what you think you are entitled to."
miscavigecourt.jpg
 

LA SCN

NOT drinking the kool-aid
And there's also the humor to keep things light:
The following comment by BrainSlugged inspired the following shoop:

miscavigecourt.jpg

"Although you may find it grotesque that while you sleep in your warm blanket of survival that I provide, I FOLLOW THE POLICY OF L. RON HUBBARD despite the outrageous slings and arrows of those on ESMB"

"You're messing with the wrong Dwarf !!"

:omg: :thumbsup: :biggrin:
 

LA SCN

NOT drinking the kool-aid
I met her a few years after I squeezed myself away from the Church.

She has helped me much in my education of the world outside of the Hubbardistic confines of the Church.

When I squeezed away I was determined to find a non-scientologist wife who knew how to make things go right without having the obssesive compulsive desire to use Hubbardistic drivel to do so.

Oh dear, is that a serfac?

Rd00

I'm afraid its much worse than that. :no:

You have undertaken a self-determined, causative course of action based upon your own possibly God given but definitely pre-existing analytical ability decide your own future actions and their resulting benefits.

Quite likely you have traded any chance at a future hubbardistic existence for a paltry happy fulfilling beneficial meaningful enjoyable healthy honest productive life with children, grandchildren, parents, friends and loved ones with whom you may freely interact.

:yes::yes::yes::yes::yes::yes::yes:
 

NoName

A Girl Has No Name
"Although you may find it grotesque that while you sleep in your warm blanket of survival that I provide, I FOLLOW THE POLICY OF L. RON HUBBARD despite the outrageous slings and arrows of those on ESMB"

"You're messing with the wrong Dwarf !!"

:omg: :thumbsup: :biggrin:

Which Dwarf is this? Dopey or Grumpy?
 
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