Thursday, June 21, 2018
News Roundup

Scientology starts collecting $1 million judgment from longtime Tampa nemesis

The Church of Scientology has begun collecting a $1.07 million court judgment from one of its chief challengers, Tampa lawyer Ken Dandar, who has waged high-profile legal fights against Scientology off and on for 17 years.

Armed with a court order, the church garnished the bank account of the law firm of Dandar and Dandar on Sept. 26. Ken Dandar and his brother, Thomas, have practiced together for years.

The move caps a lengthy and acrimonious court battle. It stems from Dandar's decision in 2009 to represent a Virginia woman in a wrongful-death suit filed against the church in Clearwater after her son died while visiting his Scientologist father.

Church lawyers immediately objected, arguing that Dandar had formally agreed in 2004 to never sue Scientology again. That year, he and the Clearwater church had settled another wrongful-death suit — this one filed seven years earlier on behalf of Scientologist Lisa McPherson, who had died in 1995 after being cared for 17 days by church staffers in the Clearwater church, Scientology's worldwide spiritual headquarters. (The later suit was eventually dismissed.)

In March, senior Pinellas Circuit Judge Crockett Farnell agreed with church lawyers — that Dandar had breached the McPherson settlement, terms of which never were made public. Hearings before Farnell were even closed to the public.

Farnell ruled Dandar must repay Scientology for its legal fees and other costs — a bill totaling $1,068,156.50.

"It's a tremendous amount of money,'' Dandar told the Tampa Bay Times on Friday.

The garnishment froze his firm's account, he said. He declined to say how much his firm had in the bank. But he said of the church's strategy: "They didn't get much.''

The impact is significant, however. The account is the firm's operating capital. It pays employees, rent, taxes and other bills. The firm laid off a support staffer this week, Dandar said. Three others remain on staff.

In papers filed in federal court in Tampa this week, Dandar said the garnishment is "effectively shutting down the law firm.''

He backed off that Friday. "I am never giving up practicing law and being an attorney who has a wealth of information concerning Scientology,'' said Dandar, who is 59 and has been practicing in Tampa since 1979.

Asked if the church finally had prevailed, he stated: "Why are they afraid of me? That's the question.''

What happens next is unclear. Dandar had forestalled the church's efforts to collect by filing a flurry of appeals and other actions in state and federal court.

"Everyone turned me down,'' he said of the judges.

If he opens a new account at another bank, the church can garnish it, he said. Also, according to Farnell's order, he can be jailed if he doesn't comply.

Dandar still has a suit in federal court in Tampa accusing the church of violating his civil rights. He also said the church had erred in garnishing his firm's account because it impacts his brother's ability to practice law. Dandar said his brother was not a party in the second wrongful-death suit.

He also insisted he never agreed in 2004 to not sue Scientology again.

The church did not respond to a request for comment.

Comments
Florida eliminates Texas Tech at College World Series, faces Arkansas for title-round spot

Florida eliminates Texas Tech at College World Series, faces Arkansas for title-round spot

OMAHA, Neb. — JJ Schwarz hit a two-run homer and Florida built enough cushion to survive Texas Tech's six-run outburst over the seventh and eighth innings to eliminate the Red Raiders from the College World Series with a 9-6 win Thursday night....
Updated: 2 hours ago
Missed time a good mental reset for Rays’ Matt Duffy

Missed time a good mental reset for Rays’ Matt Duffy

ST. PETERSBURG — Missing all of 2017 might have been the absolute worst thing for Matt Duffy.Frustratingly idled as he eventually recovered and rehabbed from ongoing left heel issues, he couldn't play the game he loved, couldn't show the Rays o...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Timeline of investigations, suspensions and allegations involving Jameis Winston

Timeline of investigations, suspensions and allegations involving Jameis Winston

The NFL will suspend Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston three games without pay to start the regular season for violating the league's personal conduct policy. The suspension could be increased if he fails to meet certain undisclosed requirements expect...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Jameis Winston suspension means Bucs will turn to Ryan Fitzpatrick at QB

Jameis Winston suspension means Bucs will turn to Ryan Fitzpatrick at QB

TAMPA — The news of Jameis Winston's suspension to start this season likely means the Bucs will have veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick stepping in at quarterback for the first three games of the regular season.Fitzpatrick took over as the starter for th...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Kevin Knox to Knicks makes NBA history locally

Kevin Knox to Knicks makes NBA history locally

More than a year ago, Kevin Knox stepped across the stage at the Straz Center to receive his high school diploma.On Thursday, the former Tampa Catholic star was on basketball's biggest stage as he fulfilled his lifelong goal of making the NBA.Knox wa...
Updated: 3 hours ago
2018-19 schedule unveiled: Lightning opens with five straight at home

2018-19 schedule unveiled: Lightning opens with five straight at home

NHL schedules all balance out at the end, but the Lightning will open 2018-19 with five straight home games and end the season with its last four on the road.The Lightning released its schedule Thursday evening for the upcoming season, with all sorts...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Without a first-rounder, Lightning still could have busy draft weekend

Without a first-rounder, Lightning still could have busy draft weekend

The Lightning doesn't have a first-round pick in this weekend's draft, but that's not to say the weekend couldn't be busy for general manager Steve Yzerman and his front office.The Lightning sent its top draft pick to the Rangers in February as part ...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Next move is simple for the Bucs: Get rid of Jameis Winston

Next move is simple for the Bucs: Get rid of Jameis Winston

Trade him. Waive him. Cut him.Whatever.Just get rid of him.Jameis Winston should never play another game for the Tampa Bay Bucs.Plain and simple, he's a bad guy and the Bucs should have nothing more to do with him.He already will miss the first three...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Charles Krauthammer, Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist and intellectual provocateur, dies at 68

Charles Krauthammer, Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist and intellectual provocateur, dies at 68

Charles Krauthammer, a Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post columnist and intellectual provocateur who championed the muscular foreign policy of neoconservatism that helped lay the ideological groundwork for the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, died...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Rays journal: Jake Bauers proves he’s up to speed on bases

Rays journal: Jake Bauers proves he’s up to speed on bases

ST. PETERSBURG – Rookie 1B Jake Bauers has impressed at the plate and in the field since his June 7 promotion.Also, with his hustling on the bases."I knew he played hard; everybody said that at every level,'' manager Kevin Cash said. "I di...
Updated: 5 hours ago