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CHURCH OF SCIENTOLOGY INT'L v. TIME WARNER

July 16, 1996

CHURCH OF SCIENTOLOGY INTERNATIONAL, Plaintiff, against TIME WARNER, INC., TIME INC. MAGAZINE COMPANY, and RICHARD BEHAR, Defendants.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: LEISURE

 LEISURE, District Judge:

 Defendants moved for summary judgment in this libel action, which the Court granted in part and denied in part. See Church of Scientology Int'l v. Time Warner, Inc., 903 F. Supp. 637 (S.D.N.Y. 1995). Defendants then moved for reargument and reconsideration, arguing that the Court should have granted summary judgment in full because the sole remaining statement sued upon is nonactionable based on the incremental harm doctrine. After reargument, and upon reconsideration, for the reasons stated below, the Court grants summary judgment as to the sole remaining statement in the case and dismisses the case in its entirety.

 BACKGROUND

 In 1992, Time magazine published a 10 page, 7500 word article entitled "Scientology: The Cult of Greed" (the "Article"). The Article was highly critical of Scientology, and included such statements as:

 
"For nearly 40 years, the big business of Scientology has shielded itself exquisitely behind the First Amendment . . . ."
 
"In reality the church is a hugely profitable global racket that survives by intimidating members and critics in a Mafia-like manner."
 
"Many of the group's followers have been accused of committing financial scams, while the church is busy attracting the unwary through a wide array of front groups in such businesses as publishing, consulting, health care and even remedial education."
 
"Today the church invents costly new services with all the zeal of its founder."
 
"To pay their fees, newcomers can earn commissions by recruiting new members, become auditors themselves . . . , or join the church staff and receive free counseling in exchange for what their written contracts describe as a 'billion years' of labor. 'Make sure that lots of bodies move through the shop,' implored [founder] Hubbard in one of his bulletins to officials. 'Make money. Make more money. Make others produce so as to make money . . . However you get them in or why, just do it.'" (second omission in original)
 
"To gain influence and lure richer, more sophisticated followers, Scientology has lately resorted to a wide array of front groups and financial scams."
 
"Over five months, the Gearys say, they spent $ 130,000 for services, plus $ 50,000 for 'gold-embossed, investment-grade' books signed by Hubbard. Geary contends that Scientologists not only called his bank to increase his credit-card limit but also forged his signature on a $ 20,000 loan application."
 
"HealthMed, a chain of clinics run by Scientologists, promotes a grueling and excessive system of saunas, exercise and vitamins designed by Hubbard to purify the body. Experts denounce the regime as quackery and potentially harmful, yet HealthMed solicits unions and public agencies for contracts."
 
"Hubbard's purification treatments are the mainstay of Narconon, a Scientology-run chain of 33 alcohol and drug rehabilitation centers -- some in prisons under the name 'Criminon' -- in 12 countries. Narconon, a classic vehicle for drawing addicts into the cult, now plans to open what it calls the world's largest treatment center . . . ."
 
"Three Florida Scientologists, including Ronald Bernstein, a big contributor to the church's international 'war chest,' pleaded guilty in March to using their rare-coin dealership as a money laundry. Other notorious activities by Scientologists include making the shady Vancouver stock exchange even shadier (see box) and plotting to plant operatives in the World Bank, International Monetary Fund and Export-Import Bank of the U.S. The alleged purpose of this scheme: to gain inside information on which countries are going to be denied credit so that Scientology-linked traders can make illicit profits by taking 'short' positions in those countries' currencies."
 
"The Feshbachs command a staff of about 60 employees and claim to have earned better returns than the Dow Jones industrial average for most of the 1980s. And, they say, they owe it all to the teachings of Scientology, whose 'war chest' has received more than $ 1 million from the family. The Feshbachs also embrace the church's tactics; the brothers are the terrors of the stock exchanges. In congressional hearings in 1989, the heads of several companies claimed that Feshbach operatives had spread false information to government agencies and posed in various guises -- such as a Securities and Exchange Commission official -- in an effort to discredit their companies and drive the stocks down."
 
"Scientology mischiefmaking has even moved to the book industry. . . . Scientology has sent out armies of its followers to buy the group's books at such major chains as B. Dalton's and Waldenbooks to sustain the illusion of a best-selling author. A former Dalton's manager says that some books arrived in his store with the ...

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