Scientologists Achieve 'Peace' by Settling Suits

Source: Los Angeles Times
Date: December 17, 1986

Ending years of bitter litigation, the Church of Scientology has reached a series of out-of-court settlements in a move church attorneys said Tuesday will mean a lasting "peace" between the church and many of its harshest foes.

Among the settlements approved last week was a highly publicized fraud case in Oregon brought by former church member Julie Christofferson-Titchbourne, who had twice won multimillion-dollar judgments against the church that were later overturned.

Also settled were cases brought on behalf of former Scientologists by Boston attorney Michael Flynn, a man the church has publicly vilified for his stinging criticisms of the group.

Flynn said at least 10 of his lawsuits against Scientology were settled last week. Under terms of the settlements, parties to the litigation are barred from disclosing how much money was paid.

Documents filed last week in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles show, however, that the church was preparing to pay $650,000 to four former members with suits pending there.

Both sides said they were pleased by the outcome.

Scientology attorney Earle Cooley said the church settled the cases to avoid mounting legal fees that would far exceed the costs of fighting the cases in court.

"Peace has been made between the church and the clients represented by Mr. Flynn," Cooley said. "They have given recognition to the fact that their complaints were against prior management of the church, and not present management."

Cooley added, "I think we have demonstrated that litigation against the church is not a cost effective proposition and is not the road to untold riches."

For his part, Flynn said: "We're very happy with the settlement. There are still some issues that are left open on appeal, but I think that it was an amiable settlement and I guess both sides are happy."

One of the key cases settled included a $15-million lawsuit suit by former Scientology archivist Gerald Armstrong, who agreed as part of the settlement to return to the church thousands of pages of confidential documents.

Insurance Policy

Now living in Boston, Armstrong left the church disillusioned after 12 years, taking with him more than 10,000 pages of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard's papers, which purportedly proved that the late science fiction writer had misrepresented his background and achievements. Armstrong said he took the documents as an insurance policy against future harassment by the church.

The church unsuccessfully sued Armstrong for return of the documents, comparing his confiscation of the personal writings to "mental rape" and accusing him of plotting to use the documents in future lawsuits.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Paul G. Breckenridge Jr. previously ruled that Armstrong was justified in taking the documents, which the judge said portray Hubbard as a man "who has been virtually a pathological liar when it comes to his history, background and achievements."

Many of the documents have been under seal pending the outcome of Armstrong's countersuit, which was settled last week.

The church is appealing a $30-million judgment awarded to a former member who claimed he was driven to the edge of insanity and ruined financially for criticizing the organization. That case has not been settled.