Advertisement
  1. News

Judge dismisses wrongful-death lawsuit against Scientology

Published Dec. 22, 2011

A wrongful-death lawsuit filed against the Church of Scientology and three church parishioners after the apparent suicide of a 20-year-old Virginia man who died in Clearwater while visiting his Scientologist father has been dismissed by a Tampa federal judge.

Clearwater police determined Kyle Brennan of Charlottesville took his own life on Feb. 16, 2007, using a gun he found in his father's downtown apartment. Thomas Brennan later found his son.

A federal lawsuit filed in 2009 by Kyle Brennan's mother, Victoria Britton, on behalf of her son, contended Brennan's death was the result of improper actions by his father and two other church members.

It alleged Thomas Brennan hid his son's antidepression medicine, Lexapro, after conferring with his church counselor, Denise Gentile, who is the sister of Scientology's leader, David Miscavige.

Scientology strenuously opposes psychiatry and the use of psychotropic drugs.

Kyle Brennan, who was not a Scientologist, had traveled throughout the country for two months before visiting his father.

He took Lexapro for depression.

The suit named as defendants Brennan, Gentile and her husband, Gerald Gentile, both of Clearwater, as well as Scientology's Clearwater-based Flag Service Organization.

U.S. District Judge Steven Merryday dismissed the action earlier this month, citing a lack of evidence that Brennan took away his son's medicine.

He also ruled the plaintiff failed to support the claim that Scientologists were complicit in the death.

Britton, who is not a Scientologist, had no comment Wednesday night about the dismissal.

Church spokeswoman Pat Harney said in a statement that Merryday found none of the defendants responsible.

"The unequivocal language of the summary judgment order establishes that the Brennan lawsuit never had any factual or legal basis," she said. "The church expresses its condolences to both of Kyle Brennan's parents.

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. The main exhibit center at the Museum of Science & Industry in Tampa once stirred the imagination with dinosaurs and stars. Now, it's empty, but on the verge of rebirth as a movie studio.
    The County Commission has set aside $2 million for the project as the Film Commission studies the demand for it.
  2. President Donald Trump speaks during a news conference with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison in the East Room of the White House, Friday, Sept. 20, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky) PATRICK SEMANSKY  |  AP
    Hunter Biden worked for a Ukrainian gas company.
  3. Reclaimed water rates are increasing 6 percent in St. Petersburg.
    Potable, waste and reclaimed water fees will all increase. So will garbage fees, though the stormwater fee will drop for some.
  4. Joshua Russell, 26, faces a charge of aggravated manslaughter, according to deputies. Pinellas County Sheriff's Office
    A dose of kratom caused the caretaker to fall asleep for hours inside a hot minivan with the disabled man in the back seat, investigators said.
  5. Tampa Mayor Jane Castor announces federal grants Friday that will equip at least 600 officers with body cameras. CHARLIE FRAGO  |  Charlie Frago
    Mayor Jane Castor announces a nearly $600,000 Department of Justice grant Friday.
  6. Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri spoke Friday about a child protection investigator who was arrested on charges of falsifying reports. JOSH SOLOMON  |  Josh Solomon
    It’s the second time in two years a Pinellas child protection investigator has faced falsification charges.
  7. Stay with tampabay.com for the latest news and updates. Times
    The Challenger K-8 student didn’t have access to a gun, deputies said.
  8. Life changed for Chad Cagley with the birth of daughter Aaliyah, now 3. Cagley was killed Monday when a drunk driver slammed into the back of his motorcycle on Interstate 75, according to the Florida Highway Patrol. FAMILY PHOTO  |  Courtesy Stephanie Coomes
    The drunk driver who ran into Chad Cagley was caught after a witness followed him, troopers said.
  9. Former Tarpon Springs police Officer Steven Bergren, seen in this 2012 picture with his K-9 partner Dobies Jr. Bergren resigned before he could be fired by the Tarpon Springs Police Department for threatening a mass shooting. Bergren said he was joking. Tampa Bay Times
    The detective said he was joking. The Tarpon Springs Police Department said it would have fired him had he not resigned.
  10. A student holds a sign while participating in a "Global Climate Strike" at the Experiential School of Greensboro in Greensboro, N.C., on Friday, Sept. 20, 2019. Across the globe, hundreds of thousands of young people took the streets Friday to demand that leaders tackle climate change in the run-up to a U.N. summit. KHADEJEH NIKOUYEH/NEWS & RECORD  |  AP
    With a coastline stretching 1,350 miles, Florida faces some of the gravest risks from rising ocean levels.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement