Judge Dismisses Scientology Suit Against Lawyer
LOS ANGELES (AP) _ The Church of Scientology will appeal the dismissal of its libel suit against a lawyer, ordered after church founder L. Ron Hubbard’s failure to appear for a deposition in the case, officials say.
U.S. District Judge Manuel Real dismissed the suit against Michael J. Flynn of Boston on Monday and the church’s attorney, Thomas Peterson, immediately announced he would seek to have the ruling overturned.
The church’s civil suit against Flynn had contended he defamed the organization in 1983 by allegedly accusing Scientology members of putting water in his airplane’s gas tank in a sabotoge attempt.
Flynn represents more than a dozen former Scientologists who have sued the church, alleging fraud and charging they did not receive spiritual enlightenment they expected.
Real had ordered the church to bring its 72-year-old founder to a Los Angeles office on March 20 to answer questions in connection with the case. He failed to appear.
Hubbard left the church’s Gilman Hot Springs compound in 1980 and hasn’t been seen publicly since then.
The church contends that Hubbard resigned all his positions in the church in 1966 and no longer controls it or its various corporations.
″Mr. Hubbard is his own man, and the church doesn’t control him at all,″ said the Rev. Heber Jentzsch, president of the Church of Scientology International.
But Flynn said ″the judge ruled that he (Hubbard) is in control of the corporations.″
Hubbard and his wife, Mary Sue Hubbard, founded the church in 1954. A science fiction writer, Hubbard wrote Scientology’s, ″Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health,″ which has sold millions of copies.