In a lawsuit against the church, Judge Julie S. Sneed will consider arguments on whether David Miscavige can be served with papers.
For months, Church of Scientology leader David Miscavige has played “a cat and mouse game” by evading formal notices in a human trafficking lawsuit, according to Manuel Dominguez, an attorney representing three former church workers.
In a Tampa federal courtroom on Friday, Dominguez said the three attorneys in attendance representing Miscavige could “end this now” by disclosing where their client lives.
“This is just a game, and I don’t think it should be,” said Dominguez, a partner at Cohen Milstein in Palm Beach Gardens.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Julie S. Sneed tried too, asking Miscavige attorney Joseph Terry for an address, with no success.
The plaintiffs’ attorneys asked Sneed to declare Miscavige served, considering their 27 attempts between May and August to deliver court papers to the Scientology leader at 10 church locations in Clearwater and Los Angeles. After a 90-minute hearing on Friday, Sneed said she will take both sides’ arguments under advisement before issuing a ruling.
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Dominguez noted that Miscavige “is very much engaged in business here in Florida” and cited his appearance at a New Year’s event at the church’s Fort Harrison Hotel. He also referred to a Tampa Bay Times story that detailed Miscavige’s Jan. 6 phone call with Clearwater interim City Manager Jennifer Poirrier to discuss the church’s real estate plans.
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Dominguez countered that Miscavige actively manages the Freewinds and his business in Florida is incidental to his clients’ claims. He said the other church entities named in the lawsuit are located in Clearwater and that “the church itself is his agent,” Dominguez said.
“He and Scientology are the same entity, that’s the way this religion is run,” Dominguez said.
The five church entities named as co-defendants in the lawsuit already have been served and filed motions in July to push the lawsuit into internal church arbitration, where it would go before a panel of loyal church members. A judge has not yet ruled on the church’s request to divert the case out of the U.S. court system.
In the meantime, Dominguez argued his legal team has gone to extensive lengths to serve Miscavige, including hiring a private investigator, researching public records and asking the attorneys representing the five church entities for Miscavige’s mailing address.
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