ContractsProf Blog

Editor: Myanna Dellinger
University of South Dakota School of Law

Monday, October 15, 2012

Some Spy Suits Are Justiciable

L._Ron_Hubbard_in_1950We have reported previously on the fact that the Totten doctrine bars suits against the United States by people who enter into espionage contracts with the government.  But what if you are engaged in espionage for the Church of Scientology?

As reported here in the Tampa Bay Times, Paul Marrick and Greg Arnold are suing the Church of Scientology for breach of contract.  The two men claim that David Miscavige, the Church's leader, hired them to spy on the Church’s rivals, especially Pat Broeker, who was ousted during a power struggle in 1986, and whom it was believed still constituted a threat to Miscavige’s power over the church.  The theory was that Broeker had misappropriated $1.8 million in Church funds and that he was in possession of invaluable records entrusted to him by Church founder L. Ron Hubbard (pictured).

Marrick and Arnold allege that the Church has been paying them up to $500,000 a year since 1988 to keep the Church informed of the comings and goings of Broeker, among others, including Indiana governor Mitch Daniels when he was with Eli Lilly, and promised that their positions were permanent.  However, they allege that the Church stopped paying them two earlier this year, and they have now filed suit.

Marrick and Arnold claim that, while no written agreement existed, the assurances given to them by the church constitute a verbal agreement that the church breached when it stopped paying them.  Statute of Frauds much?  They claim to have kept ample records detailing their work, and according to the Tampa Bay Times, when they suggested that they would share that information with the newspaper, the Church initiated settlement talks in a suit it characterized as a "shakedown."  The Church acknowledges that the two men worked for them, providing "various services" as "independent contractors."  

[Christina Phillips and JT]

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