Church Of Scientology Lawsuit Headed For Trial

Source: Pantagraph
Date: March 26, 1994

(Associated Press)

The Church of Scientology has convinced a federal judge to allow its $14.7 million breach-of-contract suit against public relations giant Hill & Knowlton Inc. to go to trial here this summer.

U.S. District Judge Stanley Sporkin rejected Hill & Knowlton's request to dismiss the case, saying a jury should decide whether the company acted improperly.

Scientology officials claim the company broke the law when it canceled its contract with the church in May 1991 because of pressure from Eli Lilly and Co., manufacturer of the antidepressant drug Prozac.

The church, a longtime opponent of psychiatric treatment, began a nationwide campaign against Prozac in 1989. Although Prozac is one of the most widely prescribed antidepressants, Scientologists claim it is a deadly drug that may lead people to commit mass murders and suicide.

Hill & Knowlton's notice of termination was sent only days after the publication of "Scientology, the Thriving Cult of Greed," a Time magazine cover story highly critical of the church.

The church is asking Hill & Knowlton for $4.7 million in compensatory damages - the amount it paid for services performed over nearly five years - and $10 million in punitive damages.

Hill & Knowlton has filed a counterclaim, saying the church still owes $333,216.30 in unpaid bills.

The trial is scheduled to begin June 13.

Hill & Knowlton began representing the church in 1987 to help improve its image. Scientology officials had become concerned about how the controversial group was viewed by the public and perceived in the media.

In its suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Washington, the church claimed agreements it signed with the company assured it that Hill & Knowlton was accustomed to controversy and would not terminate services because of outside pressure.

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