LA Daily Journal, 12 December 1997
Type: Tort, intentional infliction of emotion distress,
Bench decision: Amendment of judgment - $6,025,857
($4,649,328 renewed judgment plus $1,376,529 accrued
Case/Number: Larry Wollersheim v. Church of Scientology of
California / C332027.
Court/Date: L.A. Superior Central / Oct. 29, 1997.
Judge: John P. Shook.
Attorneys: Plaintiff - Craig J. Stein (Gartenberg, Jaffe,
Gelfand & Stein, LLP, L.A.); Daniel A. Leipold, Cathy Shipe,
Robert F. Donohue (Hagenbaugh & Murphy, Orange); Lita
Schlosser (Encino); Ford Greene (Hub Law Offices, San
Anselmo). Defendant - William T. Drescher (Calabasas); David
M. Chodos (Simke Chodos, L.A.); Gerald L. Chaleff (Orrick,
Herringdon & Sutcliffe, L.A.); Monique E. Yingling (Zuckert,
Scoutt & Rasenberger, Washington, D.C.).
Facts: Plaintiff, Lawrence Wollersheim, a former member of
defendant Church of Scientology of California (CSC),
initially obtained a $30 million verdict in compensatory and
punitive damages against defendant in 1986. Prior to trial,
Scientology reorganized its corporate structure, wherein the
Church of Scientology International (CSI) became the new
"mother church" replacing CSC. Religious Technology Center
(RTC) was formed in 1982 and became the owner and protector
of Scientology service marks and products. CSC became an
inactive corporation with no income, assets, employees or
business. At trial in 1986, plaintiff alleged that defendant
intentionally and negligently inflicted severe emotional
injury on him through the use of certain practices during
his years in Scientology, which aggrevated his mental
condition. These practices included "auditing" wherein
plaintiff was forced to undergo a strenuous regime for six
weeks aboard a ship maintained by defendant. Although
plaintiff attempted to escape, he alleged he was seized by
Scientology members, who held him captive until he agreed to
continue with these practices. Additionally, plaintiff
alleged that Scientology auditors convinced him to
"disconnect" from his family, which meant he was no longer
to have any contact with them. Plaintiff also claimed the
defendant engaged in "fair game", a practice of retribution
and threatened retribution against members who left or
otherwise posed a threat to the organization. Plaintiff
claimed this practice forced him into continued
participation in Scientology's other practices that were
harming him emotionally. Plaintiff, then represented by
different counsel, sued defendant alleging fraud and
intentional and negligent infliction of emotional injury. In
1986, a jury issued a verdict for $30 million in
compensatory and punitive damages. On appeal, the Second
District found substantial evidence to support its decision
that defendant had committed the tort of intentional
infliction of emotional injury against plaintiff and that
there was sufficient evidence of "auditing" and other
practices conducted in a coercive environment. The appeals
court also found that none of the practices were "voluntary
religious practices otherwise entitled to constitutional
protection under the First Amendment religious freedom
guarantees." However, in 1989, the appeals court reduced
judgment to $500,000 in compensatory and $2 million in
punitive damages. Both sides appealed to the California
Supreme Court, which declined review. Both sides appealed to
the U.S. Supreme Court, which denied plaintiff's petition
but granted CSC's petition and remanded to the state
appellate court for reconsideration on the punitive damages
issue following its decision in _Pacific Mut. Life Ins. Co.
v. Haslip_. On remand, the appellate court essentially
affirmed its prior decision. The U.S. Supreme Court denied
Scientology's petition for review, and the judgment became
final in March, 1994. In 1993, in a separate lawsuit,
Scientology sued Wollersheim to set aside the judgment on
the ground of claimed judicial bias during trial. The trial
court granted Wollersheim's special motion to strike the
complaint pursuant to the state's anti-SLAPP suit (strategic
lawsuits against public participation). The appellate court
affirmed the judgment and an award of attorney's fees for
$130,506.71, holding among other things that the history of
the underlying litigation revealed that Scientology's action
against Wollersheim was "consistent with a pattern of
conduct by the church to employ every means, regardless of
merit, to frustrate or undermine [Wollersheim's] petition
activity." Wollersheim was awarded an additional $240,000 in
attorney fees on appeal. Plaintiff, through present counsel,
Craig Stein, Daniel Leipold, Robert Donohue and Cathy Shipe,
then moved to amend the judgment rendered against defendant
CSC to include real party defendants and judgment debtors,
CSI and RTC. Plaintiff claimed that CSC's reorganization
occurred partly to prevent him from collecting his judgment
Contentions: The plaintiff essentially contended in its
motion to amend the judgment that CSI and RTC were the alter
ego of defendant CSC. CSI controlled the litigation by
paying for it. RTC, run by David Miscavige, the head of
Scientology's management entity known as "Sea Organization"
directed the litigation. Plaintiff further contended RTC was
the recipient of CSC assets, most notably Scientology
trademarks, without payment of consideration. The defendants
essentially contended that Wollersheim's efforts to amend
the judgment were barred by laches and that defendants were
denied due process because they were denied an evidentiary
hearing since the court ruling was based upon declarations
and other evidence submitted by both parties.
Result: The trial court concluded that defendants' leaders
"acted in bad faith which would result in an injustice to
plaintiff if CSI's and RTC's corporate separateness were
maintained and they were not added as judgment debtors." In
a 6-page order issued Oct. 29, 1997, the court concluded
that CSI and RTC were the alter egos of CSC. The court based
its findings on a number of factors including that CSI and
RTC had sufficient unity of interest and ownership with CSC,
that CSI and RTC controlled the litigation, that CSI
financed the lawsuit, used the same counsel, and that RTC's
chairman and highest officer supervised and controlled the
defense and ordered the destruction of certain files the
court ordered CSC to produce to plaintiff. Consequently,
plaintiff was permitted to amend the judgment to include CSI
and RTC, the real party defendants and judgment debtors. On
Nov. 17, 1997, defendant CSI posted a bond in the amount of
$9,045,229.40 to undertake an appeal of the reported
Other Information: The result was reached approximately 17
years after the case was filed.
Background: Stein was born in New York City and raised on
Long Island. He received his bachelors degree in business
administration from the Bryant College of Business
Administration in 1974 and his law degree from Hofstra
University School of Law in 1979. He began practicing law at
the firm of Wilens & Baker in New York City. In 1980, he
moved to Los Angeles and was in-house counsel for a
publishing company for three years. He has been in private
practice since 1983 specializing in commercial business
litigation with an emphasis on creditor's rights. He helped
establish his present firm in 1996. Stein is married with
At what time were you brought into the Wollersheim case?
"I was brought into the case the summer of 1994. The United
States Supreme Court had denied the second petition by the
Church of Scientology to review the case on March of 1994.
At that point in time, Mr. Wollersheim was without counsel
and retained me for the purposes of trying to collect his
money. ... My role in this case and my associations with Dan
Leipold and his firm has been to locate the money that is
long overdue to Mr. Wollersheim."
The court stated that the defense will use whatever means to
undermine an action. Were you aware that the church had that
type of reputation?
"I had, secondhand, read stories in the press about the
litigation tactics that had been employed by the Church of
Scientology prior to my becoming involved with the case.
Coincidentally, some years before, I had sued the Church of
Scientology for another client for a wholly unrelated matter
and that was resolved almost instantaneously."
So, what was your approach to this case?
"Well, again, there was a judgment, and I was hired to
collect this money. I started reading everything I could
about the case, related cases and decisions that effected
Scientology generally. What made the case difficult is that
Mr. Wollersheim sued a corporation called the Church of
Scientology of California. That was its corporate name and
when he filed that lawsuit, it was what Scientology called
the mother church. It was at the top of the hierarchical
pyramid. After Mr. Wollersheim filed suit and up until the
case went to trial, Scientology changed its corporate
structure and created a new mother church called the Church
of Scientology International. They stripped, basically, all
of the assets from the Church of Scientology of California
and gave those assets to other corporations including the
Church of Scientology International."
Now that you have won the appeal, what are the chances of
your client getting his money?
"Well, the new entities that Judge Shook found to be
responsible for this debt have posted bond. There is a $9
million dollar appeal bond that has been posted."
Considering how hard they go after people who sue them, did
you have any concerns?
"I have been concerned about that, but I have never been
treated in any way that I would call inappropriate. I have
not experienced anything. I have not experienced anything
that is different than any other litigation except for the
fact that every time we go to court, they have a new set of
Why is that?
"Basically, we have continued to have reasonably positive results with
the court. I guess they say, 'Well, we didn't have success with this set
of lawyers, let's bring on another set of lawyers.'"
Did the defendants know that the plaintiff was manic-depressive when he
joined the church?
"The findings at the trial and at the first level of appeal was that
they did know he was manic-depressive, and they played on his
manic-depression in keeping him beholden to the church. At least, that
is how I read what transpired."
The defendant's claim that targeting the plaintiff's business is part of
their religious practice seems unusual.
"Well, again, they were trying to escape liability for conduct which, I
think, most people would say is unacceptable in our society. They were
trying to shield the conduct behind the claim that it was a religious
practice. Most religious practices are protected by the First Amendment,
but what the appellate court found, and was guided by earlier precedent,
is that, yes, religious practices are protected, but there are
boundaries for even that conduct. In this case, those boundaries were
The court found that the defendant's actions caused the plaintiff
emotional distress. But weren't their actions against the plaintiff part
of their normal custom and practice? Are they now open to further
"Well, I think that if they engaged in this similar conduct with anyone
else, they would be subject to similar types of liability. I think that
one of the reasons that they have fought this case as strenuously as
they have is that Mr. Wollersheim is one of their most severe public
How so? Does he grant a lot of interviews?
"Mostly, nowadays, through the Internet. He speaks of his experiences.
He maintains an extraordinary database of Scientology related materials
and litigation histories. He has acted as an expert witness and
consultant to other people who have been involved in litigation with the
church. You saw the term 'fair game'?"
"There is a Scientology practice where once someone is an enemy of
Scientology, that person is declared a, and this is one of their buzz
words, 'suppressive person' is subject to 'fair game'. Mr. Wollersheim
was declared, back in 1980, a 'suppressive person' and subject to what
you have read, ever since. He is being sued by Scientology as we speak
in Denver -- a claim of copyright infringement on some of the
information that has been posted on the Internet."
Now is a "suppressive" someone who has left the church or can it be
"It could be a member of the church. As far as I know, it is primarily
directed toward members of the church, but I suppose (laugh) I might be
considered a suppressive. I am certain my co-counsel, Dan Leipold, is
considered a 'suppressive person.'"
Why do you think it is certain?
"Dan has been involved for many, many years in much litigation with
Scientology on many different fronts. I'm sure he is not one of their
most favorite people."
Considering what Mr. Wollersheim had already been through, it is amazing
that he has gone on this long.
"I think that most people would have folded. It is hard to even explain
to you in a brief interview just how much litigation Mr. Wollersheim has
been involved in, in connection with this case. He sued Scientology
once, they have sued him at least four times now, and they are presently
suing him. It is hard to imagine the process being used in this fashion.
During the pendency of the trial, Scientology sued Mr. Wollersheim in
the district court -- not only Mr. Wollersheim, but his lawyers and his
expert witnesses. Ultimately, it was determined to have been brought in
bad faith and was dismissed."
They are persistent (laugh).
"(Laugh) Very persistent. the problem they have now is that the original
defendant, the Church of Scientology of California was determined to be
not tax-exempt by the Internal Revenue Service. They found that the
benefits of the corporation did not endure to the public benefit, but
rather that the benefits went to L. Ron Hubbard. So, they said it was
not a bona fide tax-exempt organization. But the new mother church, the
Church of Scientology International and its other leading entity, the
Religious Technology Center -- both now the defendant debtors, were
granted tax-exempt status in 1993. I think that this ruling, which says
there is no separateness among these entities could conceivably threaten
the tax exempt status, which is something they can ill afford to let
What other litigation professionals say about this attorney: Attorney
Daniel S. Latter of the Law Offices of Daniel S. Latter in Century City
says: "I think [Stein] is a terrific business litigator -- diligent and
tenacious, and I think it was necessary to be diligent and tenacious to
get to the finish line in the Scientology case. I trust his ability and
judgment, and it is because of the trust that I have in him and the
faith I have in him that we have worked on a number of matters over the
-- Kathy Kinsey
Background: Shipe was born and raised in Southern California. She
received her bachelors degree from National University in 1982 and her
law degree from California Western School of Law in 1991. She has been
practicing for six years specializing in civil litigation, primarily
professional negligence. Shipe is divorced and enjoys writing fiction,
traveling and skiing.
You went to Hagenbaugh & Murphy right out of law school. Did you
immediately start working with Daniel Leipold?
"No, I was originally working in out Glendale office, and I didn't have
much to do there. He got his first Scientology case down here and was
looking for some help and since I was without much to do up there ... It
was interesting. Three weeks after I passed the bar exam, I got an
assignment to oppose the preliminary injunction that was made in the
Hart v. Cult Awareness Network case. I don't know if you are familiar
with that case."
What is the Cult Awareness Network?
"They were our first client where we got to know Scientology. ... [I]f
you had somebody who joined, let's say, the Moonies, Jehovah Witnesses
or many different groups and you were wondering what the group was
about, you could call the Cult Awareness Network [CAN] and say, 'Tell me
about the Moonies.' They would send you a packet of information which
basically consisted of newspaper clippings. ... [I]t was a fairly loose
knit group of individuals around the country -- mostly concerned parents
and that sort of thing. The Scientologists, way back when, decided that
they weren't happy with this group, and they started suing in large
numbers. We defended lots of those suits -- somewhere around 35 of them,
although, there were similar suits around the country. Basically, it
started looking like they were trying to sue the Cult Awareness Network
out of existence, and eventually, that's what happened. CAN filed for
bankruptcy sometime last year and the interesting thing is that
Scientology, in the bankruptcy proceedings, has purchased the name 'Cult
Awareness Network' and their phone numbers. now, if you call the Cult
Awareness Network, the person who answers the phone is a Scientologist
and will tell you really nice things about the Church of Scientology."
In an article, attorney Graham Berry states that litigating against
Scientology is a great way to develop your litigation skills.
"_That's_ the truth, because they are very litigious. They will file
every sort of conceivable motion and oppose the motions you file very
vigorously. So you get repeated opportunities to perfect your law and
motion skills (laugh). ... In other words, in a normal case you send out
some discovery, a month later you get back some answers. In this sort of
case, you send out some discovery and then you might get some
objections, and then you might get a motion filed. It is a never-ending,
long and tedious process."
So, they go after their opponents vigorously. Do you feel you need to
respond in kind?
"We haven't really responded in kind. We always try to be more strategic
than that. We have more limited resources (laugh). So, we have tried to
use our litigation dollars in a way that is going to most effectively
benefit our client and get our objectives met, which is to win the case.
You see, the Church of Scientology adheres to L. Ron Hubbard's doctrine.
They consider all of L. Ron Hubbard's writings to be scripture and one
of the things that L. Ron Hubbard wrote is, and I can almost quote it
for you after hearing it so many times, 'The purpose of litigation is
not to win, but to harass.' They really adhere to that. They file
motions that can't possibly be calculated to win, but it causes you to
have to spend time and money. If they do that and they do it enough
times, then they win."
Are their tactics really much different from other hard-nosed
"There is no group of opponents that I have ever dealt with that has
even come close to these people in terms of the volume and rancor
associated with the litigation tactics they use. You know, it's not just
me. We have declarations that we have used various times over the years
from people like Judge Kolts. ... He talked in one of the declarations
he filed in one of the cases about how they filed every motion that was
conceivable and some that are not conceivable. He had never seen
anything like it. Judge Ideman, who was on the Central District of
California panel at one time, filed a declaration that basically said
the same thing. He recused himself from the case, because he felt like
he was being harassed by them. He just had enough. It is truly
phenomenal. It's like nothing you see anywhere else."
For an outsider looking in, it may be hard to understand their
"Well, they operate on a whole different system of behavior. They have a
couple of different volumes of just definitions of their language. They
have a whole different language, and one of the terms they use a lot is
the word ethics or ethical. When you see that word, you think, 'Oh, we
all know what ethics are and what the term ethical means.' They have a
different definition of it though. To them, in order for an action to be
ethical, what it has to do is promote the prevalence of Scientology in
the world. So anything is ethical as long as it makes Scientology more
prevalent. [O]nce you understand that everything they do is designed to
promote Scientology in the world, I guess, it makes more sense."
Now considering their philosophy, there is something that is hard to
understand -- John Travolta. It's hard to reconcile him with the actions
that took place in the Wollersheim case. He seems so cool (laugh).
"(Laugh) I know. I have a hard time with it too. I don't know this. This
is just how I perceive it, because I have done that too -- 'How can
[they]? They seem like nice people.' The celebrities that participate in
Scientology -- I think Scientology understands that it really needs
these people. It really helps Scientology to have all those celebrities
as part of their organization, and so, they have to treat them very
well. So, they have the celebrity center. Are you familiar with that?"
The one in Hollywood?
"Yeah, although they do have others, I believe, in other parts of the
world, but that is the main one. In fact, I just spoke to somebody who
actually has been inside there. It's opulent. It is like a hotel. It's
like a refuge for these people. ... They get treated like royalty. this
woman I spoke to the other day said she had gone to the celebrity
center. ... One of the things she saw there was the John Travolta suite.
. It was beautiful she said. Well, if you are John Travolta, (laugh)
and you have your own suite at the celebrity center, that's going to
seem like a really good deal, and you never get exposed to the evils of
Scientology. ... I think there are divisions in Scientology. There are
things that some people see. There are some things that others
absolutely don't see."
Do you know why they wear the military uniforms?
"That's part of the 'Sea Org' and the 'Sea Org' is sea organization. It
is something L. Ron Hubbard started. He took Scientology from L.A., and
. eventually, they took to a floating ship called the 'Apollo,' I
think. He took all of his most loyal Scientologists aboard a ship, and
he created this paramilitary organization. See, he had been in the U.S.
Navy, and he made much of his military experience, although it seems he
made more out of it than it really was. So, he wanted to be not only the
leader of Scientology but also be known as the Commodore, and he was.
That's what they called him. In order to have a bunch of people under
you that looked like, you know, military people. That's what they are
today. ... They have ranks -- captain, lieutenant. ... But those are the
most loyal Scientologists. Those are the people who probably do the
lion's share of work in Scientology. They sign billion year contracts."
A billion? Doesn't that violate some kind of public policy?
"(Laugh) Well, they've never tried to enforce one in a court of law.
They do that because they believe people come back and are reincarnated
and have several lifetimes."
And you are bound for all those lifetimes, too.
"That's right. You sign up in this life -- you're bound for all your
future lives too."
What do you see as the future for the Wollersheim case -- after 17
"Well, you would think that it would come to an end at some point. All I
can tell you is that right after Mr. Wollersheim won his original
verdict of $30 million, it was reduced on appeal, a rally was held in
Los Angeles, at which their top lawyer at the time, Earl Cooley, was the
speaker. It is my understanding that he made a comment to the crowd that
'There would never be one thin dime paid to Larry Wollersheim.' A
similar quote was found in a LA Times article at the time, and that
became sort of the battle cry -- 'Not one thin dime to Wollersheim.' I
really think that is how they intend it is going to end up -- that no
matter what, they are not going to pay a dime to Wollersheim. Certainly,
everything that they have done up to this point has demonstrated that is
their conviction. It's tempting to think they can't possibly drag this
out any longer, but they are so darn good at that (laugh)."
What other litigation professionals say about this attorney: Attorney
Keri Bush of Woldt & Peterson in Irvine says of Shipe: "I think she is a
great attorney. She writes remarkably well. The cases she has worked,
specifically the Scientology ones, are an absolute horror (laugh). I
mean, from the attorneys to the game playing to the issues which are
things no one has ever heard of before. I tell her constantly that I
don't know how she gets through it without blowing her top or turning
out like what she has to deal with. She handles it with great aplomb.
She loves to research, too, which I think benefits her in these types of
cases because there are always new issues." Bush adds: "Cathy is not a
bulldog, by any stretch of the imagination, but she is persistent and
calm." Attorney Nancy Greenan Hamill of Reuben & Alter in San Francisco
says that Shipe "was a great mentor for me. I was grateful for the
opportunity to work for her. ... She is a very professional and astute
individual." Hamill adds: "She is a lawyer other lawyers should emulate.
If there were more attorneys like her, we wouldn't have such a bad
reputation (laugh)." Attorney Robert C. Harvey of the Law Offices of
Robert C. Harvey in San Diego describes Shipe as a "bright, hardworking
and motivated attorney. She is also level-headed. I have seen her do
some oral arguments, and she conducts herself really well in oral
-- Kathy Kinsey
Background: Leipold received his bachelors degree from St. Mary's
College in 1970 and his law degree from Western State University in
1977. he has been practicing for 20 years in the areas of civil rights,
copyright and trade secret, elder abuse and medical malpractice. Leipold
has a daughter, 10, and a stepson, 17.
How did you originally get involved in the Wollersheim case?
"Well, to go back -- I also represented the Cult Awareness Network
[CAN]. ... Scientology is what I would call a serial litigator, and they
filed approximately 30 lawsuits against the CAN in California. They
actually filed about 50 of them. ... I didn't know anything about
Scientology, [and] didn't know anything about CAN. ... They needed a
defense to some lawsuits. Well, at the time, it was just two lawsuits,
so I said fine, I'd be willing to do that. ... What they did was, the
Scientologists were using what they call FSMs, field staff members,
which are outside public members of the organization to act as fronts,
and they were fronting a series of Unruh civil rights actions against
the CAN which considers Scientology to be a cult. [The suit] stated that
CAN was discriminating against them by not allowing Scientologists to
join. That's how I got involved in the entire field of Scientology. That
was, I think, in late 1991 or 1992. ... Mr. Wollersheim filed the first
case, which is Wollersheim I, and the [Church] filed the rest.
Wollersheim IV is based in Wollersheim I. In Wollersheim IV, the Church
of Scientology of California, which was the defendant in the Wollersheim
I case, was on the verge of exhausting every conceivable appeal you can
imagine, and they came back with a lawsuit saying that they had 'just
discovered' that Judge Swearinger, who had been dead for six months,
harbored a secret prejudice against Scientology, and therefore, this was
intrinsic fraud that infected the jury, and they wanted to overturn the
Wollersheim I verdict and start all over again. Larry Wollersheim was
attempting to defend himself and some people contacted me. I basically
came into the case at that point because [Wollersheim I] was such an
important case. ... So, I said, 'OK, this is what we will do: We will
file a SLAPP suit motion.' We filed a SLAPP motion and then eventually
got awarded about $500,000 in attorneys fees on it. ... As a result of
getting involved in that, we began examining what they were doing. They
had stripped the Church of Scientology of California of all its assets.
They were basically sitting there saying, 'Ha, got away with it.' We
looked at the entire structure of what was going on. There is a case out
there called Church of Spiritual technology versus, I think, the IRS.
Church of Spiritual Technology is another Scientology church, and in
that case they call the corporate structure of Scientology a 'deceptic
vidas.' Whatever that means in Latin. But, obviously you get the flavor
of it. ... So, basically we undertook a year long project of preparing
this motion to amend the judgment to add CSI and RTC which, so far, has
been successful. That explain it? That was the long answer."
In doing some research, your name popped up as an enemy of the church on
a web site. How did you get on that list?
"Anybody who stands up to them is on that list. Are you aware of the
'fair game' policy?"
Craig Stein described it to some degree.
"Right now, that I know of, I have the best track record of anybody
litigating against them currently."
So, are you fair game?
What does that mean to you?
"To me? Not that much. It hasn't been that horrible. I don't want to
misconstrue things. I know that I was followed once, or I believe that I
was followed once. I have a pretty good basis for it, but otherwise I
have avoided most of the pitfalls. They call me names and accuse me of
nasty, unethical stuff, but that is pretty typical for whatever opponent
they are facing in litigation. Do you know who Graham Berry is?"
Yes, a quote of his came up in the Internet view with Ms. Shipe. He
stated that litigating Scientology is a great way to develop litigation
"Yes. Exactly. That's true. I believe that this has made me a much
better litigator. ... [I]t is has made me a much more efficient
litigator because they throw everything and the kitchen sink at you, and
you have to be able to control yourself and not react to all this stuff.
That's the key to surviving Scientology litigation. These guys are
deadly serious. They believe they can do no wrong. They believe that,
and they believe that any finding against them is an injustice and that
everybody is conspiring against them to destroy them. You cannot get
sucked into their world."
OK, the Church believes that, but they hire firms, often well-known
firms, to do their legal work. How do the firms view their client?
"You know, these well known firms tend to come and go. You will see them
on a case for six months or a year and then you won't see them again.
. I _suspect_ that they eventually realize that they are getting
farther and farther out on an edge. But, can I prove that? No. That is
my suspicion. ... I do not believe that the motions are written by these
well-known firms. ... And I have had these lawyers admit to me that they
are not writing them. I don't know what the relationship is. They tend
to over-lawyer cases unbelievably. They send legions of lawyers when any
rational law firm or litigant would send one or two, and they believe by
facing you off with a half dozen overpaid lawyers they will either
overwhelm you or impress the court so much, that you won't stand a
Does that have a negative effect in front of juries and judges?
"Certainly their track record in front of juries has been miserable. As
far as judges? I think it doesn't initially have that, but eventually it
does. The key, in my opinion, to Scientology litigation is to build on
their past record and constantly build on it and come back to the
record. It's a real temptation when they are saying some of these
outrageous things about your client and doing these horrible things to
get sucked into the name calling. I will admit to you, and I am not
talking about Larry Wollersheim in particular, but some of my clients
have been virtually hysterical. Some of my witnesses have been, too, but
they have been through hell. I can't blame them. Larry Wollersheim, if
he were to ever bring another lawsuit against them, ... the $30 million
that was initially awarded would look like chicken feed. I have no doubt
that the Court of Appeals would uphold _whatever_ verdict was rendered
against them. [Scientologists] have been constantly using litigation as
a bludgeon against this gentleman for 17 years. You know, I am not one
of these guys that gets up there and say, 'Lawyers are next to God, and
we are wonderful people.' and quote from Abraham Lincoln, but it is the
most _disgusting_ thing I have ever seen, and it makes one ill to be a
lawyer to see how many lawyers from good firms are willing to
participate in a simple trashing of the system -- just for money."
What you see happening to your client. Is that one of the things that
keeps you going?
"Yes, absolutely. I mean there is no big payday in this. You get paid
half a million dollars to work on a SLAPP suit? Big deal! You did a
million dollars worth of work. ... You get paid $110 or $120 an hour for
work that you would normally bill out at $250 to $300 an hour. I mean,
it's not about money. If they want to get rid of me, leave these people
alone. Just leave them alone."
How are they able to recruit people?
"One of they typical ways they recruit is that they will hand you a free
personality test. Well, the personality test is loaded. You can't pass
it. There will always be something wrong that only Scientology can help,
and they will run you through certain simple processes which they will
call auditing. ... So, let's take an example of a simple auditing
procedure. They will give you auditing procedure called 'bull-baiting,'
and this is a process in which you sit with your knees touching the
person across from you, ... and you are staring into each other's eyes.
That other person is the auditor, and your job is to sit there,
unblinking, and stare not at the person's eyes, but at a point, say,
several inches behind the back of their head -- learn to do that
unfailingly. So, perhaps a man is sitting there in a chair, they might
have an attractive woman walk in the room and rub his leg. They might
have another person come in and tell jokes. They might have another
person come in a jump and down behind the person he is staring at. All
things that are supposed to distract you, and what you have to learn to
do is the stare beyond the person's head. Now it is a parlor trick. It
has nothing to do with religion. It is a parlor trick, but you can learn
to do that. ... It gives the person a sense of power to be able to learn
this simple parlor trick and they will go around and use it. 'Wow! They
really taught me something that gives me power over people! It really
makes me something I wasn't the day before." They basically teach that
to screen out their environment and focus on very narrow points. Well,
that obviously has an advantage if you think about how that can aid you
in your daily work, to have that simple-minded focus. ... The problem is
the environment is also your support. The environment is also what keeps
you in touch with reality. So, once you've started getting this
single-minded focus, they then take you from these simple-minded
premises and begin to get you into the more complex premises, and then
begin to isolate you more, so that your contacts are basically all
within Scientology and all about Scientology. ... It is a methodology,
call it brain washing if you want to, and it is not different in kind
from what advertisers do. It's not different in kind from what all
religions do. It is not different in kind from going to law school or
going to boot camp. It is different in the intensity and focus, by a
factor that is quadruple, at least. That is what makes it dangerous. ...
It is important for a litigator to understand this. Most people can't
survive the first six months, because [Scientologists] are not
practicing law. They are practicing Scientology. This is more about
Scientology and Scientology doctrine then it is about legal positions.
They only use the law as a tool, and it is a tool to 'utterly destroy'
their enemies. Those are L. Ron Hubbard's words."
So, to litigate against them, you must understand their process?
"You have to understand it, and what they try to do is _smack_ you down
and run over you like a steamroller in the early stages of the
litigation using this massive legal machine they have. You don't
understand what's going on around you because if you are evaluating
things on a straight legal basis, it does not compute. You see, you have
to understand who these people are. Scientology has these secret levels
that are called the OT levels. That's where the height of the religious
doctrine lies, and they claim that these are not only religious
doctrines but also their trade secrets and copyrights. In other words,
they switch back and forth between the secular and the religious
constantly, and ever religion, obviously, has a secular component, but
these people can strictly be a business in the morning, in the afternoon
they can strictly be a charitable operation, in the late afternoon they
can switch over to be a book publishing organization and later in the
afternoon, when they really need a last hope, they are strictly a
religion. They switch back and forth and play this shell game with
So that is why there is a debate about whether they are a business or a
religion? Because they keep shifting?
"The businesses are absolutely controlled by them -- these outside
businesses that are theoretically secular. ... They _run_ these things.
WISE is the World Institute of Scientology Enterprises. The WISE program
is nothing but a secularized tech of the Church of Scientology.
Dianetics is different from Scientology. Dianetics is the basis for
Scientology, and yet they will market Dianetics as if Dianetics is the
religion. Let me give you an example. These business, they will give
[people] the same personality test, and tell them 'We can repair your
business and back it and boom -- make your profits triple, but you are
going to have to apply this tech.' They then take this same tech, which
is secularized from the control tech of the Church of Scientology and
teach you the basic principles of it. It does help you, at least in the
short term. Once, they have you familiarized with the tech, they go in
and say 'Look, we have detected some problems. 'Gee, we really can't
help you more completely, because we are just in the business of
business tech, but we do know who can,' and they refer you to the Church
of Scientology and then you take courses from there."
But why do people pay all that money for courses?
"They _control_ these people. Maybe not the Travoltas and the Cruises
who get pampered. They are treated specially. They don't see that side
of it. They are prizes within Scientology to use to show the world
favorable images of Scientology. They are in separate organizations --
Scientology organizations. They are within the celebrity centers, and
they get special treatment within them, but the masses of people in
Scientology ... I've got declararations from rational professional
people who get hooked into one of these business organizations to help
their business and within months they have gone through their kids'
college funds. They have maxed out their credit cards. They've gone
through their savings accounts. They have hocked everything they own.
It's unbelievable. ... They _suck_ money out of these people like a
What is the future of the Wollersheim case? Will he get his money?
"I've got a $6 million judgment against viable entities now. I've got a
$9 million bond sitting on my desk. ... However, if you read the
Wollersheim IV case, you will understand what their program is. Their
program is to keep litigating, keep litigating, keep litigating on
quasi-plausible claims, ... to suck out all possibility he will have a
benefit from this judgment. ... They believe they can outlast anybody. I
believe we are getting to the end of the game here as to collecting this
judgment. However, if they keep harassing Mr. Wollersheim, this ain't
the end of the game. They are _terrible_ at defensive actions. Terrible!
They don't know how to defend a case. All they know how to do is attack.
. The seeds of their destruction lies within that argument in the
Wollersheim IV case."
Do you think the debated in Germany about Scientology's status as a
religion is something that is going to spread?
"It's not going to spread to this country, because we have an entirely
different concept of freedom of religion here than in Germany. But, it
is not just Germany. It's Germany. It's Greece. It's Italy. It's Spain.
It's Sweden. It's Russia. It's France. It's Switzerland. Virtually all
these countries have pegged them and know what they are -- this is
nothing but a money making machine. This is not to say these people do
not have a religious philosophy, but, in the end, this is a huge money
making machine that grinds up people and spits them out. In my opinion,
this organization represents the most serious threat to our legal system
that I know of. Period. Bar none."
What other litigation professionals say about this attorney: Attorney
John C. Adams of Hunt & Adams in Santa Ana has known Leipold for a
number of years and says: "I think he is an excellent attorney. ... He
has been involved in a lot of very complicated cases. You know, he is a
person that I certainly would go to myself if I needed to be represented
in a litigation matter. ... I think he has reputation for being honest
in his dealings and someone whose word you can rely on." Adams adds:
"You know he is going to fight hard on the case. He is going to fight
hard on the case, but it is going to be done in an above the board
manner and in a way that doesn't personalize things." Jean Hobart of the
Law Offices of Jean Hobart in Irvine is Leipold's opposing counsel on a
pending case and says: "I think he has done an excellent job for his
client. He is extremely knowledgeable in a very specialized area of
which this litigation involves. He is a meaningful opponent. He is
extremely well qualified to defend his clients and is extremely
professional. He has a real commitment to his clients."
- Kathy Kinsey