Scientology in the News: Press Office
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NEW YORK (November 15, 1995) -- A multi-million dollar libel suit against Time magazine filed by the Church of Scientology International (CSI) will go forward to trial as a result of a Southern District Court of New York ruling issued Tuesday. US District Judge Peter Leisure both denied and upheld portions of the media giants motion for summary judgment, finding that the Churchs case met the stringent standards of proving a jury could find "by clear and convincing evidence" that Time acted with "actual malice" in publishing one of the statements at issue in the case.
The lawsuit, filed in April 1992, asks for $416 million in total damages for libelous statements made in a 1991 story concerning CSI. The statement that will move forward to trial contains a "spurious allegation" connecting the Church to the Vancouver Stock Exchange, which the Church says was "invented and absolutely false."
The libel suit is the second case to be ordered to trial stemming from the same Time magazine article.
The other lawsuit, moving concurrently in the same district court before US District Judge John E. Sprizzo, was filed by the Church of Scientologys parishioner Michael Baybak for derogatory statements made about Baybaks business practices and seeks $60 million in damages. Time tried unsuccessfully to get the case dismissed earlier this year.
During oral argument on the motion, Judge Sprizzo referred to "the obvious bias and hostility" of the Time reporter, noting that Time magazine "would be better off if someone else had written this article."
In remarking on the CSI case, attorney Jonathan W. Lubell noted that the Church believes that appellate review is merited on the other statements at issue in the case, which Judge Leisure thought might not be found by a jury to meet the high standard required for actual malice. The issue of the falsity of these statements has not yet been touched upon in the case.
President of the Church of Scientology International, Reverend Heber C. Jentzsch, stated, "Times history of dishonest and morally bankrupt reporting is catching up with them." Rev. Jentzsch also referred to the recent scandal of Times cover story on "cyberporn", found to have been known by Time to have been based on an obviously flawed study, and which followed a series of other similar problems for the magazine.
The Church anticipates that the case can now rapidly move forward to trial.