Emery Wilson Corporation, a Scientology-linked organization doing business as Sterling Management, lost a lawsuit last month which it had brought in 1991 against the Cult Awareness Network and several individuals.
The suit alleged that CAN and the other defendants harmed Sterling Management's business operations through dissemination to the American Dental Association and to many other individuals and organizations of information about Sterling Management and its links to the Church of Scientology.
Other defendants in the case included CAN Executive Director Cynthia Kisser, and Priscilla Coates of the Los Angeles affiliate of CAN. Craig Branch, Vice-President of the Christian counter- cult ministry Watchman Fellowship, had also been named in the suit, but was dropped as a defendant early in the case because the court in which the suit had been filed, the Superior Court of the State of California for the County of Los Angeles, did not have jurisdiction over Branch, a resident of Alabama.
Judge Aviva K. Bobb granted CAN's Motion for Summary Judgment in the case, finding that Sterling Management offered no evidence for its claim that any of the defendants interfered in causing cancellation of a contract between Sterling Management and the Better Business Bureau. Sterling Management was not able to prove that the defendants were responsible for disrupted relationships with Sterling's clients and prospective clients.
The court had precluded Sterling Management from presenting evidence of this alleged disruption because of sanctions it issued last year after CAN proved to the court that Sterling Management had purposely tried to destroy evidence in the case which proved Sterling Management was linked organizationally to the Church of Scientology. The evidence had been found by Priscilla Coates after Sterling Management discarded it and it was subsequently authenticated by the court. Sterling Management had claimed at that time that it filed the suit that it was a secular organization with no connection to Scientology.
CAN had also been sanctioned in the case for discarding old records of incoming phone calls to CAN from the public. Unlike the sanction Judge Bobb issued against Sterling Management, the sanction she issued against CAN did not conclude that the discarded records were evidence in the case, but simply that they might have been evidence in the case, but since they had been discarded, the court was not able to examine them so that a determination could be made.
The Sterling Management case was one of approximately 50 cases brought against CAN or its affiliates during 1991 and 1992. Only three cases remain active. In all the other cases the Scientology defendants either lost the cases or voluntarily withdrew them.
CAN's Motion for Summary Judgement was written by Cathy Shipe and argued by Daniel A. Liepold, both with the law firm of Hagenbaugh & Murphy in Orange, Calif. Sterling Management was represented by Lawrence E. Heller of Turner, Gerstenfeld, Wilk, Tigreman & Heller, Los Angeles, Calif.