Scientology's Trust Issues: A Possible Garcia Legal Strategy? - 2013-10-28
We don't know yet how Luis and Rocio Garcia will respond to Scientology's attempt to have their fraud lawsuit against the church thrown out of court based on jurisdictional issues. But while we wait for their attorneys Ted Babbitt and Ron Weil to try and save the lawsuit, we asked our own attorney, Scott Pilutik, to look more deeply into the issues the Garcias face.
As Scott explained to us last week, Scientology claims in a new motion to dismiss that the Garcias chose an improper venue — federal court in Tampa, Florida — to bring their lawsuit which alleges that they were duped fraudulently into giving donations to the church totaling about $400,000. Citing a very basic legal concept of "diversity jurisdiction," the church pointed out that three of its entities being sued by the Garcias are actually based in California, where the Garcias are — and that makes it a mistake to sue them in Florida.
Chief among those entities is the Church of Scientology Religious Trust (CSRT), which took in most of the Garcias' donations. In a declaration by CSRT trustee Glen Stilo filed with the church's motion, Stilo indicates that he lives in Clearwater, Florida and is one of CSRT's trustees, but other trustees live in California...