Court Cases

Scientology has for a long time been a litigious organization.  Here are some records from some of the lawsuits in which they’ve been engaged.

Operation Snow White

Eleven top Scientologists, including L. Ron Hubbard’s wife, went to prison for their parts in covert operations against the United States Government.
USA v Mary Sue Hubbard et al
USA v Jane Kember and Morris Budlong

Lisa McPherson – Criminal Case

Lisa McPherson died after being held for 17 days in Scientology’s Fort Harrison Hotel in Clearwater, Florida.
State of Fla. v. Church of Scientology Flag Service Organization

Lisa McPherson – Civil Case

Lisa McPherson’s family launched a civil suit against Scientology.
Estate of Lisa McPherson v. Church of Scientology Flag Service Organization

Gerry Armstrong

Gerry Armstrong was L. Ron Hubbard’s official archivist. Part of his official duties were to provide documents about L. Ron Hubbard’s background to Hubbard’s biographer. When those documents proved that Hubbard was lying about almost every aspect of his life, Scientology threw Armstrong out of the organization, declared him a Suppressive Person and set out to ruin his life.
Church of Scientology of California v. Gerald Armstrong

Lawrence Wollersheim

Order on Submitted Motions – May 4, 2001
Lawrence Wollersheim v. Church of Scientology of California

Steve Fishman

Former Scientologist Steven Fishman and his psychologist Dr. Uwe Geertz were sued by Scientology after they were interviewed by Time magazine for a cover story about Scientology, “The Cult of Greed and Power.”

It was in this trial that the formerly secret upper levels of Scientology were entered into evidence and thus released to the public.

United States of America v. Steven Fishman

Cult Awareness Network

Scientology successfully sued CAN into bankruptcy and took over the name, phone munbver and records of the group. Now when someone calls CAN looking for help, the phone is answered by a Scientologist.
Scientology v. CAN

Grady Ward

Grady Ward was sued by Scientology for posting their copyrighted material on the internet newsgroup, alt.religion.scientology.
RTC v. Ward

Howd v. Minton

One of Scientology’s tactics is to “bull-bait” someone into an action that can be used against that individual. In October of 1999, Richard Howd from Scientology’s investigative unit, the Office of Special Affairs, followed Bob Minton throughout the day from Bob’s arrival at the Tampa Airport to a picket at the Fort Harrison Hotel. During that picket, Bob was provoked into a response that brought a battery charge against him.
After a two day trial Bob was found not guilty and jury members told the press they felt it was a set-up.
State of Fla. v. Robert S. Minton

The Clearwater 13

Scientology tried to use the injunction, put in place after the Minton vs Howd incident, to stop all peaceful protests against Scientology in Clearwater, Florida.
Church of Scientology Flag Service Organization vs. Robert S, Minton et al.

Jesse Prince

Jesse Prince was the former second-in-command of Scientology and has been instrumental in exposes the abuses of the leadership of Scientology. While working for the LMT in Clearwater, Florida, Jesse was “befriended” by a Scientology-hired Private Investigator who altered the police that there was a marijuana plant on Jesse’s porch.
The resulting trial included testimony from three of Scientology’s Private Investigators who were hired to follow Jesse and other members of the LMT on a daily basis. The lead PI in Clearwater, Brian Raftery, testified that he was paid $187,000 a year by Scientology for these services.
State of Florida v. Jesse Prince

Mark Bunker

While in Chicago to interview two dentists who had been defrauded by Scientology,  I was arrested on a public sidewalk and charged with criminal trespassing. Scientology’s attorney, Elliott Abelson, worked closely with the Illinois prosecutors while Scientology’s Office of Special Affairs provided folders of “dead-agent” materials to be used against me.
State of Illinois v. Mark Bunker

Ursula Caberta

Ursula Caberta is a German government official in charge of watching over Scientology.  When she visited Clearwater, Florida as a guest of the Lisa McPherson Trust, a German Scientologists hit her with a nuisance lawsuit.

Heller v. Caberta

Summons and Complaint for Civil Trial – July 27, 2000
Motion to Dismiss – August 28, 2000


In 1999, Scientology was denied charity status in England and Wales.
Decision of the Commissioners – (PDF 21 k)
Decision of the Charity Commissioners – (PDF 178 k)


Minton v. Church of Scientology et al

In the matter of libelous information printed about Minton in Freiheit. Scientologist defendants to pay 500,000 DM or 6 months in jail.
Berlin State court decision – 3/27/01

Scientology Community of Freiburg vs. City of Freiburg – Public Codes Office
In the matter of Order denying use of street
Freiburg Administrative Court decision – 6/6/94
The decision concerning a fine was overturned – 6/6/94

Scientology Mannheim vs. Karlsruehe Executive Presidium (Regierungspraesidum)
Regarding obligation to report commercially
Karlsruhen Administrative Court decision – 1/22/96

Chick Corea v. State of Baden-Wuerttemberg
Decision regarding negligence, revocation, and identification
Superior Administrative Court decision 10/15/96

Scientology Church Karlsruhe Mission vs. State of Baden-Wuerttemberg
Also included was a “Representative of the Public Interest” concerning withdrawal of legal capacity.
Karlsruhe Administrative Court decision 10/28/96

Dianetics Stuttgart Scientology Church, Inc. vs.

Stuttgart State Capitol – Office of Public Ordinances

Prohibiting use of street for body routing.
Stuttgart Administrative Court decision – 11/10/98

Scientology Arguments

VIDEOTAPED IN COURT: November 15, 1993
Tom Padgett left Scientology. His wife and children stayed in the group. The attorneys argue over Scientology’s involvement in the case.

Deposition of Laura Vannoy-Padgett

VIDEOTAPED IN COURT: September 10, 2001
Laura Vannoy-Padgett is deposed in a court case involving a divorce, child custody and Scientology. Tom Padgett left Scientology while his wife and children stayed in the group.

Paul Grosswald Testifies

Former Scientologist Paul Grosswald testifies in a court case on behalf of Tom Padgett who left Scientology while his wife and children stayed in the group. When such divorces happen, a parent can be declared SP by Scientology (Suppressive Person) and no Scientologist is allowed to speak with that individual. This practice of Disconnection can have a devastating impact on families.
A Scientology audio tape is played into the record.  You can listen to that section separately in “Can We Ever Be Friends.”

Tom Padgett Sentenced

Former Scientologist Tom Padgett left the group and entered into legal wrangles with his former wife who had remained in Scientology with their children. Tom was sentenced for being behind in child support payments

Tom Padgett Arrested

VIDEOTAPED IN COURT: August 14, 2000
Former Scientologist Tom Padgett left the group and entered into legal wrangles with his former wife who had remained in Scientology with their children. Tom was arrested for being behind in child support payments

CAN Bankruptcy

Cult Awareness Network Files Chapter Seven Bankruptcy
June 20, 1996

The Cult Awareness Network, an internationally recognized non-profit which has provided information to the public on the cult problem, filed a motion earlier this week to begin Chapter Seven Bankruptcy proceedings.
The motion, which was approved by Judge Barliett of the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of Illinois, begins a process, under the court’s protection, of divesting CAN of its assets.
CAN had originally entered a Chapter 11 Bankruptcy last October, hoping to develop a reorganization plan that would permit it to continue to operate in the face of a crippling damage award assessed against it in civil litigation brought in a federal case in the state of Washington by plaintiff Jason Scott.
CAN filed its reorganization plan, but in the face of vigorous opposition to the plan raised by Scott’s attorney, the plan was not approved by the Bankruptcy Court, clearing the way for Scott to begin collection proceedings unless CAN entered the Chapter Seven.
The Scott case is on appeal in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. CAN’s attorney, Paul Lawrence of the Seattle firm of Preston, Gates and Ellis, expects the appellate brief for CAN to be filed by late August. Lawrence is the President of the Washington State American Civil Liberties Union.
Ironically, CAN has also filed a petition to the Illinois Supreme Court asking the high court to review a case dismissed by the Circuit Court of Cook County which names Scott’s attorney, Kendrick Moxon, his partner Timothy Bowles, and the Church of Scientology International as defendants for bringing multiple cases in an attempt to destroy CAN financially with litigation. The Chicago firm of Mayer, Brown & Platt are representing CAN pro bono in that matter.
The Chapter Seven bankruptcy halts two other cases against CAN, one in Superior Court for the County of Los Angeles brought by Scientologist Robert Lippman, and the other brought by Landmark Education Corporation in the Circuit Court of Illinois. Landmark, a for-profit organization, sued CAN, it’s president, William Rehling, and Cynthia Kisser its executive director. The Landmark case continues against Rehling and Kisser.
Court-ordered arbitration in the Lippman case has determined Lippman’s claim is meritless. In the Landmark case, Landmark has refused to file a proof of cost establishing it has actually suffered any damages because of CAN, Rehling or Kisser’s actions, publications or statements concerning the controversial organization’s reputation and activities.
As part of the Chapter Seven proceedings CAN will recommend to the Chapter 7 Trustee that it offer for sale the right to collect judgments for tens of thousands of dollars in costs awarded to CAN against several Scientologists in past cases terminated in CAN’s favor in California and Illinois. Persons interested in details about such a sale should contact the Chapter 7 Trustee, whose name is available through CAN’s bankruptcy attorney Benjamin Hyink of Hyink & Scannichio, Chtd. In Chicago at XXX-XXXX.
Of particular concern to CAN is what will happen to its archives of information on the cult issue and its confidential records of callers and donors. Without the resources to mount constitutional and public interest issues and safeguard these documents, CAN is concerned its critics will try to acquire and destroy the archives and subject the donors to harassment or intimidation. At this point public interest organizations will need to contact the Chapter 7 Trustee to have these issues addressed because CAN has no resources to present these issues.
CAN is hopeful that it will not be forced to close down before its appeal on the Scott case could be heard, but is realistic that the appeal may not be ruled upon in time to prevent its demise.
“We’ve been backed into this corner,” said Kisser, “simply because of the massive amount of litigation we have had to face in the approximately 50 cases brought by Scientologists against us in 1991. If you get sued 50 times over four years the odds are that you’re going to suffer losses at some point. What has happened to us is wrong. The record is clear on this for anyone who takes the time to review what’s been laid down in the courts.”

CAN Supreme Court Petition

March 23, 1998, Decided
Rehnquist, Stevens, O’Connor, Scalia, Kennedy, Souter, Thomas, Ginsburg, Breyer.
Petition for writ of certiorari to the Supreme Court of Illinois denied.

There is a distinction in the law between the enforcement of discovery orders directed at parties and the enforcement of discovery orders directed at disinterested third parties, but that distinction derives from concerns regarding finality, not mootness. As a general rule, a district court’s order enforcing a discovery request is not a “final order” subject to appellate review. A party that seeks to present an objection to a discovery order immediately to a court of appeals must refuse compliance, be held in contempt, and then appeal the contempt order. See United States v. Ryan, 402 U.S. 530, 29 L. Ed. 2d 85, 91 S. Ct. 1580 (1971). However, under the so-called Perlman doctrine, see Perlman v. United States, 247 U.S. 7, 62 L. Ed. 950, 38 S. Ct. 417 (1918), a discovery order directed at a disinterested third party is treated as an immediately appealable final order because the third party presumably lacks a sufficient stake in the proceeding to risk contempt by refusing compliance. Ibid. See generally 15B C. Wright, A. Miller, & E. Cooper, Federal Practice and Procedure § 3914.23, pp. 156-167 (2d ed. 1992). This distinction has no bearing on this case because a district court order enforcing an IRS summons is an appealable final order. See Reisman v. Caplin, 375 U.S. 440, 11 L. Ed. 2d 459, 84 S. Ct. 508 (1964). There is no “third-party exception” because there is no general rule barring immediate appeal of IRS summons enforcement orders.