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:: November 01, 2004 ::
Landmark Education defendant in wrongful death lawsuit

On December 12, 2001 Jason Weed murdered Oklahoma mailman Robert Jenkins. He shot Jenkins in the back while the mailman was performing his job as a postal carrier.

Mr. Jenkins wife and a stepdaughter survive the 30-year-old US Postal Service employee.

The court found that Weed was “legally insane.”

However, according to the court claim made against Landmark (Been v. Weed), “Weed was free of abnormal psychological manifestations(s) and/or disorder(s) prior to his attending the Defendant Landmark’s classes.”

Moreover, the plaintiff claims that through Landmark Education classes Weed “was subjected to extreme emotional and psychological stress which caused his mental disorders, and which resulted in the death of” Robert Jenkins.

The lawsuit further states that “Landmark knew, because of their prior experiences, that this type of disorder…was a likely and foreseeable result of attendance of their classes.”

The plaintiff’s attorneys specifically cite a “screening process and tests” used by Landmark “to eliminate person[s] who were likely to develop mental disorders as a result of their seminars.”

Mark Kamin, a Landmark spokesman explained to Pioneer Press in Minnesota more than two years ago that Landmark participants must pass a screening process devised by a board of psychiatrists, including a series of questions aimed at assessing mental stability.

Kamin said, "We have a requirement that people must be emotionally stable at that time to participate in our programs."

At the time the Landmark spokesman was responding to the horrific murder of a 13-year-old boy stabbed to death by his mother, an obstetrician who had also attended Landmark courses.

Dr. Donna Anderson was later found “not guilty” by reason of insanity under California State Law, but received a 36-year prison sentence.

Anderson was allegedly kicked out of the Forum for acting psychotic.

But in the current litigation filed against Landmark the for-profit privately held company is accused of “grossly negligent, willful, wanton, and intentional and/or…reckless disregard and/or indifference” regarding the safety of the man murdered by the former Forum participant.

The large group awareness training (LGAT) seminar known as the Forum, derives from one first offered by Erhard Seminar Training (EST).

Werner Erhard (AKA “Jack” Rosenberg), a used car and encyclopedia salesman with a high school education, created the “technology” now used in the Forum. But after repeated bad press and lawsuits Erhard sold the company in 1991.

EST then became Landmark Education, which is run by Erhard’s brother Harry Rosenberg.

LGATs also known as mass marathon trainings that focus upon "human potential" have a troubled history and at times have been the focus of personal injury lawsuits.

An article that appeared within the New York Times (1977) reported serious psychiatric disturbances associated with the programs presented by EST.

Three psychiatrists wrote on this subject for the American Journal of Psychiatry (see abstracts). One told the Times, “There's enough possibility of a real connection between EST and psychotic breaks to cause us to want to alert psychiatrists and psychologists.''

Lawyers for the plaintiff in Been v. Weed were far more explicit about the connection between Landmark and the death of Robert Jenkins.

The plaintiff’s attorneys claim, “Landmark, its agents and employees, by engaging in the practice of psychology without a license or adequate training …focus extreme emotional distress and psychological distress on persons who attend the seminar…engaging in ultrahazadous activity and [therefore] are…a direct cause of harm.”

“Even though the percent of those that attend, who develop mental disorders resulting in homicide, is small…Landmark has failed to eliminate the risk even by the exercise of what they claim to be reasonable care,” the lawyers added in their court filing.

The conclusion of the plaintiff’s legal summary is chilling, “Due to the risk involved to attendees and the general public, the Defendant Landmark’s inability to eliminate the risk or moderate the degree of harm to attendees, it is not appropriate to conduct the seminars in any location where the attendees have an opportunity to harm other human beings.”

The scope of Landmark’s reach has far surpassed the range obtained during the days of Erhard’s EST Empire.

Landmark Education has 58 offices in 26 countries and 125,000 people reportedly participate in its programs annually, according to the organization’s website. Programs are offered in more than 140 cities and businesses such as Microsoft and Reebok have paid and/or reimbursed employees to take its courses.

Note: Landmark Education is currently suing the Ross Institute of New Jersey (RI) specifically alleging "product disparagement," through the information made available at the RI database.

[Posted by Rick Ross at 10:17 AM][Link]
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