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Fla. Lawyer to Pay Church of Scientology

August 21, 2003 GMT

CLEARWATER, Fla. (AP) _ A jury Wednesday ordered a lawyer to pay $4,500 to the Church of Scientology for tactics during a wrongful death lawsuit that allegedly led to a wave of bad publicity.

Church of Scientology attorney Samuel Rosen told jurors lawyer Ken Dandar launched ``a frontal attack on an entire religion″ as opposing counsel in the lawsuit filed over the death of Scientologist Lisa McPherson.

He had asked the jury to award millions in damages to the church, but the jury ordered Dandar only to reimburse the church its legal costs.

The battle stemmed from the wrongful death lawsuit Dandar filed on behalf of the estate of McPherson, who died in 1995 after 17 days of care at the church’s spiritual headquarters.

McPherson’s estate says she died from severe dehydration. The church maintains McPherson died from a pulmonary embolism, the result of a traffic accident the day before she was brought to the church.

Church officials sued Dandar when he tried to add as defendants several top church officials, including the church’s worldwide leader, David Miscavige.

The ensuing bad publicity was devastating, church officials said, and violated a private agreement between the church and the McPherson estate not to add additional defendants.

Circuit Judge W. Douglas Baird agreed the private agreement was breached and instructed the jury to decide how much Dandar and the estate owed the church.

A trial date in the wrongful death case is expected to be set next month.