A wrongful death lawsuit filed against the Church of Scientology in Florida, but tied up through seemingly endless court actions may finally go to trial.

The controversial church is being sued for the wrongful death of one of its own.

In 1995 a 36-year-old Scientologist named Lisa McPherson apparently snapped and had a breakdown. But rather than take the hysterical woman to a hospital for treatment, Scientologists instead opted to move her to a facility they controlled.

Scientology essentially teaches that the mental health profession is evil and has long opposed both psychiatrists and the use of psychiatric drugs.

For seventeen days after her breakdown McPherson remained under Scientology’s care. And at the end of that period she was dead.

McPherson’s family sued Scientology in February of 1997.

Scientology’s apparent strategy to date has been to keep the lawsuit tied up in endless legal wrangling. It seems their latest ploy was to claim they could not get a fair trial in Clearwater, Florida, due to public opinion against them.

However, somewhat surprisingly they recently abandoned their request for a change of venue, clearing the way for a trial in four weeks, reports the Palm Beach Post.

Critics claim that Scientology abuses the judicial system to wear down and punish its perceived enemies through endless litigation. Founder L. Ron Hubbard literally taught this device to his followers as virtually an article of faith.

Historically, Scientology has been sued many times. But the church often settle cases by paying off plaintiffs. Such plaintiffs are typically asked to sign a “gag order” as part of the settlement agreement, which limits their ability to speak about the organization in the future.

Such settlement agreements can be seen as an effective way to silence critics and control information.

Scientology has apparently made substantial settlement offers, hoping to make the McPherson case go away. But it appears thus far the plaintiff is unwilling to sign off on anything that might limit their freedom of speech.

Now that the trial date is near settlement offers from Scientology, which some say is worth billions, will likely rise prodigiously.

Will the McPherson estate take the money and end the matter?

Or will this case go to trial and offer the public a penetrating look within Scientology perhaps never before fully presented in a courtroom?


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