Sunday, July 27, 2003 5th Circuit Finds For Estate in Appeal
This stems from the consolidated appeal of three cases from the Texas federal district court in Tyler, TX. The federal appellate court found that the federal judge in Texas did not have jurisdiction over the Estate, even though Dell Liebreich was a resident of Texas.
The district court correctly found that it had general personal jurisdiction over Liebreich as a resident of Texas. However, the district court impermissibly imputed that general personal jurisdiction to the Estate. The district court stated that, "[t]here can be no doubt that as a resident of the State of Texas, Ms. Liebreich has had sufficient contacts with the state to confer general jurisdiction over her in this matter, both in her individual and representative capacities."
Thus, the district court concluded that the general jurisdiction which a Texas court has over a Texas resident applies equally to a foreign estate whose representative lives in Texas. However, the district court is in error on this point.
The court vacated the decisions in the three cases and remanded to the federal district court for further action not inconsistent with the opinion. Presumably that would include dismissal.
Here are the cases in PDF format:
All three cases have the same text for their opinions
"NEWS!!! SCN vs Lisa McPherson family--- Finally :-)
"On July 22, 2003, David Miscavige and his Religious Technology Center, RTC, at the top of the Scientology enterprise, suffered an embarrassing defeat at the hands of the Estate of Lisa McPherson, when a three judge panel of the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeal in New Orleans, which included the Chief Judge of the Circuit,=A0 vacated RTC's two Texas judgments totaling over $800,000 against the estate and its attorneys, Ken Dandar and Tom Dandar, of Tampa.=A0
"The court issued not one, but two decisions blasting the inept arguments posited by Miscavige's attorneys, including Samuel D. Rosen, attempting to establish federal jurisdiction in Texas over a Florida Estate.=A0 The court adopted the jurisdictional arguments raised by the Dandars, remanding the case back to the Texas District Court.
"These Texas judgments were previously rushed by RTC to Florida and domesticated in Florida as Florida judgments.=A0 Those Florida judgments are now moot.=A0 Those judgments are currently being used by RTC and Church of Scientology Flag Service Organization in their combined bid to oust Dell Liebreich and her counsel, Ken Dandar, from representing the Estate.=A0 What will they think of next?
"As one can imagine, both the Estate, Dell Liebreich, and her attorneys, Ken and Tom Dandar, have suffered great damage at the hands of these vexatious litigators. The tide continues to turn in favor of the Estate.=A0 The death trial will soon be set at a hearing scheduled for late September 2003." unquote