Discussion in 'Media' started by BlackRob, Jan 23, 2013.
ooooooooooooooooo u bad today
Thats why there are courts and judges and appeals- there is no one answer.
"Church" or not, I can't help wondering what made the judge allow for their nefarious activity to continue.
It seems too easy to just shove it under first amendment, when the "arbitration" is clearly a sham.
How did you really arrive at that ruling, Whittemore?
This judge had the power to change the lives for many ex scilons who still have money on account with the COS. If he awarded the Garcia's their suit, then maybe others would have had the courage to come forward and get their money back. Instead he sided with a fraudulent, insidious cult and squelched the hope for many.
I still think the video of Tory (which i can't find) in Ca, asking a guard if she can talk to her Internal Justice Chief and she says "she was told by the COS it is her only terminal", and then they tell her to leave or they will call the cops, would have been another smoking gun as evidence. That is videotaped proof that the cult is full of shit.
Any ex who has tried to go into arbitration with the COS and was denied and who received a letter from the COS (like the letter they presented in the Garcia case) needs to come forward and share their story, and those letters need to be seen. If they no longer have the letter, the COS should have a copy.(yeah sure they will l shred it)
I still think there is hope to make some OTHER judge see that this is out and out fraud. It is NOT a religious matter.
And further more, there tax exemption MUST be revoked now more than ever.
I took a look at the petition and was a little dismayed by the fact that there were more signatures for people who wanted a Conway Twitty stamp than the amount of signatures for the Scientology tax revoke.
According to what TO's saying on his blog, it doesn't look like the Garcias will appeal. I don't blame them. This must have been a tremendous emotional and financial drain. But if there's no appeal, that means this whole thing is over and there won't be any new judges.
That this suit was a lost cause was predicted by several persons earlier in this thread. I was hoping it wouldn't be true, but well, whatthefuckever...
I didn't mean the Garcias. I meant if others came forward with evidence of not being able to arbitrate
I hope RInder does not become an "expert witness" on any other lawsuit. Every single one he or Rathbun have been a part of have gone to fucking shit.
Fuck them and their agenda.
FYI troll, they have zero agenda's. They want the cult GONE.
There's nothing new in this brief overview:
Federal judge sides with Scientology on refund issue | Tampa Bay Times
It's disappointing to hear about...
I guess the Garcias will be left sadder but wiser by this shakedown experience, and will have few illusions remaining about the sort of mob they were dealing with.
If anyone were in any doubt about the importance of the small print, that little phrase in the document they signed - the 'internal arbitration' part - should be a red flag for anyone dealing with this outfit. They probably skimmed that phrase, imagining it to read the customary 'independent arbitration' as I probably would have done. But they now know what that little phrase is there for.
I hope they can recover from their loss, and add their voices to the thousands who have spoken out about what they know, to save others from the clutches of these criminals.
Yup, well put AVanAllen. Like so many of the dis-enfranchised of scientology, the lessons are very expensive, emotionally mind-wrecking, and can take years to recover from (if you ever do) financially. That's how it is designed, like a retarded rabbit's warren, with noice big spikes pointed inward so that escape is either futile or very painful.
Nice 'church' eh?
Thank you Mr. LRonHubbard, you dead demented piece of shrew feces, for the mind-fukz
Hubbard sucks cock, and so does david miscavige. That grudded bastard. :O
Oh and I thought whyweprotest was down, turns out that the wifi hotspot I'm using BLOCKS it. Wonder why...
That's worth checking out, to see if there's some block list for idiots that CoS has manged to worm their way into.
Dead Canadians, Defrauded Californians, And Scientology's Huge, Weird Win In Court
By Alan Pyke, ThinkProgress
With Scientology in the spotlight thanks to a new HBO documentary, questions about the bizarre and shadowy organization’s classification as a religion are due for renewed scrutiny. The film’s juicy revelations come on the heels of a complicated Florida court case involving the First Amendment, Scientology’s refusal to return a dead Canadian’s money, and two former members who say they were defrauded of almost half a million dollars.
Luis and Rocio Garcia say they have been defrauded of about $449,000 for religious services they never received and charitable work that the church never undertook. The Garcias have been deemed “Suppressive Persons,” the church’s jargon for apostates who must be shunned by other followers who don’t want to be excommunicated themselves. This casting-out is the crux of the case, with plaintiffs arguing that because “suppressives were to be treated in the fashion that their church doctrine provides, [Scientology admits] that you couldn’t get a fair hearing,” attorney Ron Weil told ThinkProgress.
The judge seems to believe the Garcias have a strong case. Yet he decided in mid-March that he doesn’t have the power to get them their money back. The reasoning involves Scientology’s success in defining itself as a religion in the public mind, if not the courts. That success has allowed Scientology to amass billions of dollars’ worth of prime real estate in fancy zip codes around the globe, and helped a handful of individual followers like Tom Cruise to reportedly lived in extreme comfort thanks in part to the uncompensated sweat and tax-free cash of rank-and-file Scientologists.
Donations to the Church of Scientology are exempt from taxes because of a 1993 decision by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The move reversed a quarter-century of legal rulings that Scientology was a commercial organization because follower cash enriched church leaders, particularly founder L. Ron Hubbard. Despite repeatedly finding that the “church” was a commercial enterprise, and repeatedly having that finding upheld by courts, the IRS relented after years of lawsuits, private investigator inquiries into IRS agents’ private lives, a Scientologist break-in at an IRS record-keeping facility, and an un-recorded meeting between church head David Miscavige and the agency’s then-chief, Fred Goldberg.
The reversal, according to HBO’s new documentary Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief, came only after Miscagive told Goldberg that Scientology’s “war” on the IRS would end the moment it was granted tax-exempt status. (The church has always disputed that claim, which was originally reported in the 1990s by the New York Times, and described itself as enduring “more harassment and more attacks certainly than any religion in this century and probably any religion ever” at that time.)
The big-picture financial consequences of the IRS ruling are striking, but the consequences of the government deciding that Scientology is religious enough to be tax exempt have been downright nasty for individuals who left the church. For the Garcias, Scientology’s religious status prevented a judge from helping ex-members pursue fraud claims and refund demands against the church. In a ruling that says the plaintiffs had the better of the argument, Judge James Whittemore decided that the First Amendment prohibits him from carrying that argument to its logical conclusion and order the church to return almost half a million dollars in gifts by former Scientologists.
“We believe that the arbitration process has as its goal sort of a weighted deck against anyone who challenges any of the policies of the church,” Weil told ThinkProgress, “including those that are purely commercial, that deal with the solicitation of funds.”
Garcias ask for reconsideration on judge’s error: ‘We never agreed that Scientology is a religion’
By Tony Ortega, The Underground Bunker, April 11, 2015
On March 13, Tampa federal Judge James D. Whittemore granted the Church of Scientology’s motion to compel Luis and Rocio Garcia to submit to Scientology’s internal arbitration scheme, which essentially ended the Garcias’ lawsuit against the church. The Garcias, who live in Irvine, California, had sued the church for fraud, contending that donations they’d given of several hundred thousand dollars had been pried out of them through lying and deceit.
They also contended that Scientology’s “arbitration” scheme didn’t really exist, and was just concocted for contracts they had signed in order to shield Scientology from lawsuits. As former members who had been declared “suppressive persons,” they would never get a fair hearing from Scientology’s own arbitrators, they said. Judge Whittemore agreed that the arbitration scheme appeared to be something of a phantom, but he argued that he couldn’t rule if the Garcias would get fair treatment because that would require him to judge the practices and values of a church, and since both sides agreed Scientology was a religion, he couldn’t go there.
The Garcias, once they took a close look at the order, did a double take. When did they ever agree that Scientology was a religion?
If you’re like us, you’ve been wondering what the Garcias were going to do after Whittemore’s order. Would they actually go through with Scientology arbitration? Would they appeal the judge’s order?
Instead, they’re doing something else — they’ve filed a motion to reconsider. They argue that Judge Whittemore just flat-out made a big mistake and they want a do-over. They say that Whittemore assumed that the Garcias agreed that Scientology is a religion for the purpose of the motion, when actually neither side — the Garcias or Scientology — asked for that to be a consideration.
Here’s what Whittemore said on page six of the March 13 order that seemingly ended the lawsuit: “As an initial matter, the parties agree that the Church of Scientology is a religious organization and that the dispute between the parties as to whether Plaintiffs’ claims are subject to arbitration reaches First Amendment implications.”
But hang on, writes Garcia attorney Ted Babbitt: “That is simply incorrect. Plaintiffs have never agreed that the Church of Scientology is a religious organization.”
Babbitt also points out that even Scientology wasn’t asking for a ruling about its First Amendment rights as a religion — it was saving that for another motion later.
And it’s simply wrong, Babbitt says, for Whittemore to assume that Scientology is a religion, when his research suggests that no court has ruled as such. “Research on that subject reveals no case in which the issue of whether Scientology is a religion was contested and decided by a Court that is binding on this Court or has any precedential value. To the contrary, Plaintiffs, if given an opportunity, could show that the Church of Scientology is a business under the cover of religion.”
Interesting, IIRC the courts said that Scientology wasn’t a religion, but the IRS gave them tax exemption anyway. Would this be the courts verdict vs the IRS for tax purposes decision? And wasn’t the IRS agreement written with the rights of a refund included?
oh shit this is getting good
I say keep it KSW!!!!
Listen to Hubbard's own words!
Scientology's founder said it wasn't a religion. Stop squirreling the tech IRS!
Garcia will have been an IAS member and the membership says it is a religion therefore the Garcia's have agreed that it is a religion.
What if they disagree now? Does the original judgement require them to become members in good standing of the criminal organisation known as the "church" of $cientology?? If so, where does that leave their freedom of religion???
I know; questions, questions. The answers in US courts are not always what one would expect...
this may be a dumb question (s), but if they file a motion to reconsider, will it be heard by the same judge?
does it have to be heard by the same judge?
Can this be pushed to the supreme court because the courts never said that the COS was a religion? Just the IRS?
The IRS does not, and can not, say if something is a religion or not. They only grant 501(c)3 tax exempt status based on what the organization supposedly does. And that's one of $cientologies more egrigious lies, that, "The IRS says we're a religion." Not true.
In any case, they are suing a branch of the Church and not the religion itself and that branch can not be regarded as a religion so on that basis I can't see how this is a religious dispute.
This article may not provide anything new.
Ex-Scientologists Challenge Arbitration Order In Fraud Suit | Law360
By Carolina Bolado
Law360, Miami (April 13, 2015, 8:55 PM ET) -- Two former Scientologists on Thursday asked a Florida federal court to reconsider its decision sending their fraud claims against the church to arbitration, arguing that the Church of Scientology is not a religion and that the arbitration clauses are unconscionable.
California couple Luis Garcia Saz and his wife Maria del Rocio Burgos Garcia asked U.S. District Judge James D. Whittemore to reconsider his March 13 order sending their claims against the church to arbitration.
They said the court erroneously assumed that the Garcias had agreed that...
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Babbitt & Johnson and Weil Quaranta Law Firms Challenge Scientology’s Religious Status in Federal Court
TAMPA, Fla., Apr 14, 2015 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- Babbitt & Johnson, P.A., and Weil Quaranta, P.A., are challenging The Church of Scientology’s status as a “religion” in a new motion filed in U.S. District Court in Tampa. The law firms are representing two former California Scientologists who contend that the group knowingly defrauded them.
“Plaintiffs can produce evidence that Scientology possesses an elaborate corporate structure which is primarily a money making racket aimed less at promoting spiritual values than at squeezing individual Scientologists for as much money as they can pay,” the motion states.
The motion, filed late last week in the United States District Court in the Middle District of Florida, may be the first of its kind explicitly contesting Scientology’s validity as a religion. It seeks a new trial in response to a March 13 decision by U.S. District Judge James D. Whittemore staying the suit filed in January 2013 by Luis A. Garcia Saz and his wife, Maria Del Rocio Burgos Garcia, of Irvine, Calif. (Orange County) by compelling them to submit to a binding arbitration panel of Scientologists.
Luis A. Garcia Saz v. Church of Scientology Flag Service Organization Inc., Case No: 8:13-cv-220-T-27TBM, U.S. District Court, Middle District of Florida, Tampa Division
Attorneys for the Garcias, Theodore Babbitt of Babbitt & Johnson, P.A., of West Palm Beach, and Ronald P. Weil of Weil Quaranta, P.A. of Miami and Los Angeles, contended in the motion that such an arbitration panel is “both procedurally and substantively unconscionable.” They argue that the judge’s ruling is based on flawed premises that Scientology is a religion and that an arbitration panel of Scientologists is valid. The judge did acknowledge that the Church of Scientology has never conducted an arbitration.
In his March 13 order, Judge Whittemore wrote: “Plaintiffs’ claims are subject to binding Scientology arbitration pursuant to various Enrollment Applications Plaintiffs signed which contain enforceable arbitration clauses.” The Garcias’ new motion argues that the plaintiffs never agreed Scientology was a religion.
This rare showdown in federal court comes as the Church of Scientology endures withering fire in the media, with the new HBO documentary “Going Clear,” based on Lawrence Wright’s 2013 book of the same name, heightened focus on celebrity Scientologists such as Tom Cruise and John Travolta, and ample and mounting reports of harassment and financial, psychological and physical abuse toward both current and former members.
In an effort to buttress evidence of intimidation, the book and movie say that the organization only won its tax-exempt charitable status from the IRS in 1993 after relentless pressure through 2,400 lawsuits against the IRS and individual IRS employees. That exemption, plaintiff’s lawyers contend, has given the organization cover to present itself as a religion. Before 1993, the IRS, like many countries, denied tax-exempt status because the Church of Scientology made 90 percent of its money from fees rather than donations.
The Garcias said they had contributed more than $420,000 to Scientology building projects delayed or never completed, and counseling services, accommodations and humanitarian initiatives never provided. The Scientology “Flag” building in Clearwater, to which the Garcias contributed $340,000, broke ground in 1998 and was not dedicated until November 2013, raising as much as $200 million, or double the cited construction cost.
Yet Whittemore wrote that Luis Garcia had signed approximately 40 enrollment applications as a “committed Scientologist” with enforceable arbitration clauses under Florida law. The judge also contended that the plaintiffs never disputed that the Church of Scientology is a religious institution.
The plaintiffs argue that they never made such a concession, and that any arbitration contracts are “unconscionable” because ex-Scientologists such as the Garcias are considered “suppressive persons” and thus officially shunned under threat of punishment from contact with Scientologists in good standing, including family members. The plaintiffs contend it is therefore inconceivable for Scientologists in good standing to arbitrate fairly – if at all.
As for Scientology’s status as a religion, the new motion says:
“The Court…. concludes that the Defendants qualify as a religion even though no evidence of that has ever been presented to this Court and Plaintiffs have, most certainly, not conceded that point…. Plaintiffs, if given an opportunity, could show that the Church of Scientology is a business under the cover of religion… Plaintiffs contend that Scientology is a self-proclaimed religion without underlying theories of man’s nature or his place in the universe [that characterize] recognized religions. We can show that the Church of Scientology operates in a commercial manner and has an explicit financial motive and structure from its very outset. In fact, one of the Church’s goals, articulated in the Church’s governing policy of finance is to 'MAKE MONEY … MAKE MONEY … MAKE MORE MONEY … MAKE OTHER PEOPLE PRODUCE AS TO MAKE MONEY… DEMAND MONEY BE MADE.'"
The motion continues:
“There is ample evidence that despite its claimed ‘religious’ teachings and use of quasi-religious vocabulary, Scientology does not really have anything that could be called a theology. Critics suspect that clerical terms like spiritual, God, and Church mainly serve the purpose of tax evasion.”
SOURCE: Babbitt & Johnson, P.A., and Weil Quaranta, P.A.
Babbitt & Johnson, P.A.
Ted Babbitt, 561-684-2500, Cell: 561-301-3902
Weil Quaranta, P.A.
Ronald Weil 305-372-5352
Wragg & Casas Strategic Communications
Mark Sell, 305-372-1234
This is being repeated on numerous sites:
https://www.google.com/search?q="Luis A. Garcia Saz v. Church of Scientology Flag Service"&filter=0
Did the courts say that? I know there was a higher court ruling that auditing wasn't tax deductible, which the IRS definitely ignored.
Really, even if you accept that the Church of Scientology is organized for legitimate religious purposes, the fact that fee-based services are considered "donations" -- in violation of court rulings -- shows that the IRS agreement was not arrived at legitimately.
Not to mention the fact that the very same "Admin Tech" that the conglomerate is required as a matter of "religious observance" to follow is licensed to for-profit businesses, through WISE, as a method of increasing profits.
There's a related thread here:
John and Mary Lou Dettmer lawsuit against Scientology Illinois over refunds
Terrible shame on Fed judge! They are still calling it a "donation" when in reality, it is not!
Scientology answers Garcia motion: We are definitely a bona fide worldwide religion!
By Tony Ortega, The Underground Bunker, May 9, 2015
On April 11, we told you that Luis and Rocio Garcia had filed a pretty remarkable motion to reconsider after their federal fraud lawsuit against the Church of Scientology had been derailed by Judge James D. Whittemore.
Whittemore had granted Scientology’s motion forcing the Garcias to pursue the matter through the church’s internal arbitration scheme. In so doing, the judge had said that he made his decision based, in part, on the notion that both sides in the lawsuit had agreed that Scientology was a religion.
The Garcias objected, filing a motion to reconsider, and said they had never agreed to such a thing. In fact, they said, Scientology was not a genuine religion and they wanted the opportunity to prove it.
Frequent legal commenter TX Lawyer said that although motions to reconsider do tend to be long shots, he had read few that were as good as what the Garcia legal team had submitted. They really did seem to have a point.
Now, Scientology’s legal team — attorneys Wally Pope, Robert Potter, and Eric M. Lieberman — have submitted their response to that motion to reconsider.
Scientology starts out by emphasizing that a motion to reconsider is “highly disfavored” in general. “Such a motion must meet strict standards that limit parties from re-litigating what already has been decided,” the brief says. The Garcias couldn’t, for example, simply re-argue the legal decisions made by the court, and that, the church says, is what the Garcias are doing.
But what really has Scientology hacked off is the suggestion that the Garcias had never agreed to the idea that Scientology is a religion.
Calling that argument “preposterous,” they point out that from the beginning of the lawsuit the Garcias had said they were never going to challenge Scientology’s status as a religion, and in deposition Luis Garcia “testified that he believed and participated in Scientology as a religion and that he experienced substantial spiritual benefit.”
Scientology’s attorneys also didn’t appreciate Ted Babbitt’s assertion that Scientology’s status as a religion had not been established by other courts. “United States courts unanimously have found that Scientology clearly meets the modern definition of religion,” the church’s attorneys respond. They then cite many cases where references to Scientology’s religiosity being referred to, then say it was not proper for the Garcias to raise a challenge on that issue at this point.
“Defendants consistently and strongly argued their rights as religious institutions under the First Amendment, and the Plaintiffs never challenged their standing to do so. Given that Scientology has been recognized as a religion by the United States, by the State of Florida, by this Court, and by every court to have addressed the issue, Plaintiff’s attempt to argue that the Churches lacked First Amendment standing should be rejected out of hand.”
We look forward, as always, to the attorneys in our commenting community giving us their thoughts on the document itself. And here it is:
I guess the founder saying it is not a religion doesn't count.
Hardly surprising they answered what they did, what else could they say?
I'm fairly sure Babbit & Co have some aces up their sleeve. They wouldn't have gone down this road if they didn't.
Hm. Interesting, thanks for the dox on the decision up thar^^^ , so, as I interpret this decision, it appears that the tactics used by the Garcia's lawyer were not well thought out, and judge Whittemore would rather divest himself of this case.
Would be nice for one of the local legal-eagles to have a gander at this decision and give us lay-people some insight on the matter. Maybe time to go the civil court venue? dunno, ianal.
Irregardless, just another example of ex-cultists getting the shaft from scientology, nothing new here *sigh*
IANAL either. But I have no idea what Babbitt was really thinking by trying to imply that the Garcia's never agreed that scientology is a religion. Really, after they were in it for decades and signed tons of forms and agreements with the recognized-by-the-IRS-as-a-religion CHURCH of Scientology?
I was hoping I was just legally ignorant when I thought "WTF, seriously?" But the judge even comments about this in his denial (last paragraph of pg 4):
So yes, the ex-cultists are getting the shaft. But here's more food for thought: This is one more legal case advised by/involving Rinder (he was the legal consultant) that went to shit. So I think Babbitt was set up to look like an asshat too. Maybe someone will have better luck without Rinder.
Just punched one of my buttons.
$cientology is not, "...recognized-by-the-IRS-as-a-religion CHURCH of $cientology", in spite of $cientology's claims that it is.
The IRS, under a great deal of pressure, gave $cientology (and many of it's front groups) 501(c)3 Tax Exempt status. It did not, and legally can not, recogonize $cientology as a religion. It may sound like semantics, but legally there is a difference. Which $cientology goes out of it's way to blur as much as possible.
Wish the IRS would speak up and say exactly why those exemptions were granted
Don't taxpayers have the right to know where some of their tax dollars are going?
Judge Whittemore rejects motion to reconsider in Garcia fraud lawsuit
By Tony Ortega, The Underground Bunker
We knew that when the Garcias submitted a motion to reconsider in their (ostensibly) defeated lawsuit, it was going to be a long shot. However, the grounds that they were basing it on — that they had never, as Judge Whittemore said, agreed that Scientology was a bona fide religion, was at least a very interesting document, and it was fun to see Scientology get up in a high dudgeon about it.
And now Judge Whittemore has denied the motion, saying that actually, from the beginning the Garcias were saying that their lawsuit was not about religion but about fraud, and that in saying so, they had admitted that Luis considered what he did in Scientology the stuff of religion.
Well, it was a good try, but we knew that Whittemore probably wasn’t going to reverse himself.
So what’s next? We think there’s a chance the Garcias will appeal this denial to a higher court. We also still think it’s a long shot that they will eventually submit to Scientology’s internal arbitration, which is how their suit was derailed when Whittemore granted Scientology’s motion to compel them to do so.
Either way, we’ll keep an eye on it.
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