The dismissal of Marc and Claire Headley’s case against Scientology Inc. was upheld by the US 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.
headley case 9th Circuit opinion
The lawyer who originally filed the case did Marc and Claire a disservice by putting all their eggs in the Human Trafficking issue basket. Note, the counsel who argued the case in the 9th Circuit for the Headleys – not the same lawyer who brought the case in the first place – did a noble job with what she had been given to work with.
While the 9th Circuit upheld the dismissal of the lawsuit, the court indirectly condemned what had happened to the Headleys. After taking several pages to reason why the Human Trafficking standard was not met, the court concluded the decision with these words:
Likewise, we do not decide how the Headleys might have
fared under a different statute or on other legal theories. The
Headleys abandoned claims under federal and state minimum
wage laws. And although the Headleys marshaled evidence of
potentially tortious conduct, they did not bring claims for
assault, battery, false imprisonment, intentional infliction of
emotional distress, or any of a number of other theories that
might have better fit the evidence. The Headleys thus wagered
all on a statute enacted “to combat” the “transnational crime”
of “trafficking in persons”—particularly defenseless, vulnerable immigrant women and children. 22 U.S.C. § 7101(a),
(b)(24); see id. § 7101(b)(1), (2), (4), (17), (22). Whatever bad
acts the defendants (or others) may have committed, the
record does not allow the conclusion that the Church or the
Center violated the Trafficking Victims Protection Act.
The “church” will call this a landmark victory. Miscavige will certainly be tickled pink. After all, they have once again thrown L. Ron Hubbard and Scientology under the bus of public opinion. They have created a Circuit Court opinion that finds a lot of creepy behavior is motivated by belief in the Scientology religion.
Those who have been watching know that in the end it was Marc and Claire Headley who won the bigger victory. We know for a fact that the filing of the suit (and all the sweat, blood and tears Marc and Claire spilled in litigating it) resulted in cancellation of Scientology Inc’s forced abortion policy. It also resulted in dozens of former Sea Org members receiving substantial compensation (pay offs to remain silent – but compensation to create new lives nonetheless).
And, who can tell us how many people were spared the more drastic versions of the following at the hands of Miscavige because the Headley’s stepped up?:
intentional infliction of emotional distress
With the dismissal, watch for Miscavige to escalate the abuses once again. Historically, he has always done so when the church produces such a decision. Be alert folks, as per usual, we are the ones that will handle the fall out.
Barry Van Sickle commented:
Marty is incorrect about the intial lawsuit, and who made the decision to narrow the case to a human trafficking case.. The decsion to place all the eggs in the human trafficking basket was made by the Metzger firm over my objection. The intial lawsuit was filed 4 years after Marc Headley escaped. That created statute of limitation problems for most potential causes of action. Given the 4 year period between escape and lawsuit, the initial case was focused on Business & Profession Code 17200 and labor law violations. The Human Trafficking claims were added later. Also, the decisions to drop the labor claims and not challenge that the Headleys were ‘ministers” were , in my opinion, mistakes , made after I was forced out of the case. I read this blog regularly and have much respect for Marty, but he has his facts wrong on how this case became a human trafficking case and the “minister exception” issue was essentially conceded.
I’ll fix the post Barry. You should know that from the moment I received the suit – long after it had been filed – I noted the ballyhoo’d labor violation and forced labor claims would be nixed by the Alamo case precedent (since strengthened with the ministerial exemption line of cases). My advice from the get-go was to go hard to the basket with the plethora of torts committed since the Headley’s left, all very provable and clearly within the statute of limitations. Or maybe you don’t know that – because I relayed that and never spoke to you for another year or so.