Los Angeles Times: Scientology Loses Bid to Void $2.5-Million Award

Source: Los Angeles Times
Date: March 31, 1994

A judge on Wednesday threw out a lawsuit filed by the Hollywood-based Church of Scientology in hopes of getting a reversal of a $2.5-million emotional distress award that a former member won eight years ago.

The complaint, filed on Feb. 16, 1993, had been on hold pending the outcome of a U.S. Supreme Court challenge to Larry D. Wollersheim's verdict. That was resolved March 7 when the high court rejected the church's contention that Wollersheim's case should have failed because Scientology's practices are protected under the U.S. Constitution.

But by then the church had sued Wollersheim, claiming that the late Judge Ronald Swearinger was biased against Scientology and that his bias filtered back to the jury room during the trial of the Wollersheim case. Wollersheim's attorneys argued that he was the victim of a SLAPP - Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation - case designed to muzzle him and deter others from going up against the church.

The judge agreed, but Scientology attorney Kendrick Moxon did not.

"The way they argued it, there is not a single lawsuit that would not fit under the (state) SLAPP Act," he said. Moxon said he will claim in an appeal brief that Kakita's decision was too broad.