The Church of Scientology is being accused of trying to cover up the wrongful death of one of its followers, RadarOnline reports.
Lisa McPherson died in 1995 while in the care of other Scientologists. Her parents later sued the organization, claiming that it was responsible for their daughter’s death.
Ken Dander, the lawyer who represented the family, is now suing the church, its attorneys, and two judges for trying to ruin his career. He’s brought in the former number two person in Scientology, Marty Rathbun, as a witness.
Rathbun is now the church’s most vocal critic, and gave a sworn deposition that the church spent $30 million to cover up the real details of McPherson’s death.
McPherson reportedly needed psychiatric help at the time of her death, but church members brought her to the Ft. Harrison hotel instead. She died 17 days later.
Her death sparked protests near Scientology’s headquarters in downtown Clearwater, Florida, as well as a lawsuit from her family. The church was charged with a second-degree felony for practicing medicine without a license, and abuse of a disabled adult.
The charges were dropped after the medical examiner, Joan Wood, changed the cause of death from unknown to accidental.
In Rathbun’s deposition, he alleged that the organization gave gifts to Wood’s attorney, Jeff Goodis, in order to influence the change in the death. Goodis denied the allegation.
Dander won a settlement against the church in 2004, nine years after he launched the lawsuit. As part of the settlement, Dander agreed not to sue the church again. Dander says he never gave up that right and took on another client against Scientology in 2009.
Dander was ordered off the case, but he couldn’t find another attorney to take over the lawsuit. He was then ordered to stay on the case, but has been fined tens of thousands of dollars for the violation.
Dander then filed a lawsuit in federal court on October 31, accusing the church and judges of violating his civil rights. The suit says:
“A final hearing on the amount of attorney’s fees and costs due Scientology under Judge Farnell’s rulings is scheduled for November 26, 2012, where Defendants are seeking in excess of one million dollars in a closed-to-the-public-and-press courtroom in Clearwater, Florida.”
According to Tampa’s WTSP, Scientology’s top lawyer filed a lawsuit to have all of Rathbun’s testimony thrown out. An emergency hearing has been set for Monday.