Legal Ethics

Conflicting Rulings Put Lawyer Who Agreed to Stop Suing Scientology ‘in a Pickle’

A federal judge has ruled that Tampa, Fla., lawyer Ken Dandar can’t withdraw from a case he filed against the Church of Scientology because no other lawyer wants to take on the organization.

That puts Dandar “in a pickle,” the St. Petersburg Times reports, because Dandar had agreed to stop suing Scientology in a confidential 2004 settlement, and a state court seeking to enforce the deal has fined him $50,000 plus $1,000 for every day he stays in the case.

Dandar filed the federal suit against the church’s Flag Service Organization last year, but he eventually sought to withdraw after church lawyers objected. The state judge who fined Dandar, Senior Circuit Judge Robert Beach, held a hearing on his fate on Tuesday.

The St. Petersburg Times was unable to report on the proceedings because Beach agreed with an objecting Scientology lawyer and ordered the journalist out of the courtroom. All the case files have been closed since the confidential 2004 settlement of the suit, filed on behalf of the family of a woman who died while in the care of church members.

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