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Legal Options
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Author:  Gene Long [ Mon Sep 20, 2010 10:26 pm ]
Post subject:  Legal Options

First, let's listen to an attorney. I've unscrupulously copied (and slightly edited) this from elsewhere on this forum:

ornerythornery wrote:
I am licensed to practice law in state and federal courts. I could fly to Orlando tomorrow, and with a pro hac vice motion, associating myself with a powerful law firm from Ft. Lauderdale that I have worked with recently, I could file an action Monday in U.S. District Court, Middle District of Florida. I could name as defendants all the corporate entities New Tribes has here and around the world. I would put enough zeros in the ad damnum to make the Orlando Sentinel run out of space on their front page trying to put all the zeros.

And then I would settle in, not for a long winter's nap, but instead, a 5 to 10 year torture session otherwise known as a lawsuit. I just finished a lawsuit involving tens of millions in exposure to my client. Expert expenses, costs and other fees cost my client almost $500,000.

Let's assume somebody/everybody is successful in suing New Tribes Mission and/or its agents. Then what? They appeal? The case gets thrown out on a sound legal argument based on the statute of limitations, since testimony about repressed memories is found to be weak. But what if the plaintiffs prevail on appeal? What if the jury verdict is huge? OK, the headquarters is worth about $2.8 million. Adding all the rest of the property in the U.S., you might get to $10,000,000. That doesn't mean you'll collect a cent of that. But what about all of the other property the world over? At this point, plaintiff's counsel will be getting tired of the case, because after fighting 5 to 10 years, he or she, with a one-third contingency fee, might be looking at little or no recovery. There could be insurance, but those polices, umbrella or otherwise, are not going to be huge. How in the world do you execute on a judgment from Orlando on a property in Goroka? I actually know, but plaintiff's counsel will be rolling his eyes at this point and wondering why he didn't just go with the slip-and-fall at Wal-Mart.

So, I have given you the perspective of a lawyer.

Author:  Gene Long [ Mon Sep 20, 2010 10:58 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Legal Options

In March 2008, a lawsuit was filed against Chiquita Brands International by the families of five missionaries slain in Columbia. According to the Orlando Sentinel, "All five were missionaries with Sanford-based New Tribes Mission, which also joined in the suit." [http://articles.orlandosentinel.com/2008-03-15/news/newtribes15_1_chiquita-colombia-missionaries]

In February 2010, progress was made when a federal judge turned down Chiquita's motion to dismiss the suit. CNN reported, "The judge's ruling means the case can go to the discovery phase, in which each party can obtain documents and evidence from the other side." [http://articles.cnn.com/2010-02-12/world/colombia.chiquita.farc_1_farc-abducted-chiquita-brands-international?_s=PM:WORLD]

That is two years to get from the filing step to the discovery step. There are a lot of bananas at stake here, and no one is going to roll over any time soon. Set your "google alert" preferences now and settle in for a long haul. Our friend and colleague O. Thornery, Esq. has already painted a pretty accurate picture of how long this sort of thing can be drawn out.

Both the Banana Suit and the hypothetical example by O. Thornery, Esq. are civil suits, not criminal suits. There is a difference between civil and criminal actions, a quick explanation of which can be found here: http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20100225101751AAFmdw1 It should be added that criminal suits usually carry with them the possibility of imprisonment and/ or fines, but not an award of monetary damages to the victim or his/ her kin. Civil suits are generally about "recovering damages" ("suing the pants off them," in the vernacular), where there is a monetary award. (Thornery, please correct me if I am right.)

On a couple of occasions, I have contacted attorneys in the United States regarding taking civil action against a certain corporation that defamed me. Even with a strong case, it is almost impossible to win, they advised me. One told of a case he had just settled, out of court, where his client and the defendant had both spent over $30,000 over a period of a couple of years and the case had not even gone to trial yet. I think the defendant ended up apologizing without admitting guilt, but promising to exercise more discretion in future remarks. Sound familiar? This may serve as a good illustration of the difference between "satisfaction" and "settlement."

Face it: It takes deep pockets to sue the pants off someone, whether for defamation or other civil offenses. In fact, you may lose your shirt before they lose their pants. See again the sad saga of the Banana Suit. For most of us, under most circumstances, civil suits in the United States are not going to provide justice.

Author:  Yunker [ Tue Sep 21, 2010 11:51 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Legal Options

So the answer is quite before you begin?? hmmm not in my books. I would rather lose all I have and know I went for it. Just me.

Author:  JerryB [ Tue Sep 21, 2010 1:35 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Legal Options

Gene Long wrote:
( -snip- )Face it: It takes deep pockets to sue the pants off someone, whether for defamation or other civil offenses. In fact, you may lose your shirt before they lose their pants. See again the sad saga of the Banana Suit. For most of us, under most circumstances, civil suits in the United States are not going to provide justice.

I am not a lawyer, but I don't think the odds are much better in the criminal court system either. US courts don't really have any jusisdiction (as has been brought out in other posts on this forum), and I seriously doubt that any foreign law enforcement agencies are going to have any interest or the resources to prosecute crimes which took place 15-20 years ago and whose perpetrators and victims are no longer in the country.

I would much rather see our energies directed at doing what can realistically be done to bring some measure of justice and validation to the victims and to use this opportunity to completely review and revise the way that MKs are cared for and treated.

Author:  MK sheri [ Tue Sep 21, 2010 4:19 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Legal Options

Can we get pedophile tattooed on their foreheads? That is, the ones who are guilty of that. -- What I want to know, isn't it required to report a pedophile?

Author:  JerryB [ Tue Sep 21, 2010 4:40 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Legal Options

Once again, I am not a lawyer, but it is my understanding that (in the state of Washington) several classes of people (such as teachers, day care workers, and health care workers) are required to report suspected child abuse, but that a criminal conviction of a sexual nature is required before someone is labeled as a sex offender and required to register.

Author:  JerryB [ Tue Sep 21, 2010 4:42 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Legal Options

That being said, I am going to recommend to NTM that they openly and publicly identify the abusers and the organizations that they are working with.

Author:  MrsM [ Tue Sep 21, 2010 5:57 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Legal Options

MK sheri wrote:
Can we get pedophile tattooed on their foreheads? That is, the ones who are guilty of that. -- What I want to know, isn't it required to report a pedophile?

I think it may depend on the "severity" of the crime, which of course is utterly repulsive.

The man in our church (different thread) who WENT TO JAIL for his child molestation crimes is *not* registered on our state's sex offender registry. After reading all this here, though, I think I should call and ask why. I was just assuming his crime wasn't bad enough or whatever, but it could very well be an oversight- one that I would not mind correcting.

Author:  Thai MK [ Tue Sep 21, 2010 8:42 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Legal Options

Folks, with all due respect to above attorney, let's consider the following (I am discussing U.S. civil suits only...there are likely even more problems with criminal suits)

Statute of Limitations: There may be statutes of limitations which, even if a cause of action is merited, may disallow the filing of suit after a certain period of time after the action giving rise to the cause of action occurs. There are often exceptions to these statutes that may or may not apply (i.e., the clock may not start until the discovery of the injury or the discovery of the perpetrator of the injuries).

Jurisdictional Issues: Is anybody aware of any law of any state, or any federal law which would give a court within the United States the jurisdiction to adjudicate a lawsuit regarding actions taken and injuries received outside of the United States.

Burden of Proof Issues: I'm assuming the burden of proof that the plaintiff in any suit must meet would be the preponderence of the evidence (i.e., more likely than not/greater than 50% chance). Whereas that burden would not seem to hard to meet, most of the evidence regarding these actions are one person's words against another. Much of the evidence would be barred due to the hearsay rules.

Now, having said all of that, to the extent that there has been more recent abuse, which took place at a location in which the desired court has competent jurisdiction, and where the statute of limitations has not lapsed, by all means, a suit could easily be brought. But, the cost/time/effort/likelihood of success must all be weighed. But, this is why we have courts and juries. Given the right facts, I would file the complaint.

In addition, for more recent sexual crimes against minors committed even overseas, there are relatively recent U.S. criminal statutes that allow the prosecution of those crimes here in the U.S., given the correct facts. You still may have statute of limitations issues and possible burden of proof issues (standard much higher in a criminal case), and issues finding a prosecutor willing to take on the case, especially where the witnesses and evidence is scatterred around the globe.

The facts are, that in most of these cases from years ago, there is little likelihood of receiving a just result in court.

What really needs to be done is what is being done. This case is being tried in the court of public opinion and the public is exerting pressure where it needs to be applied. We are demanding changes. We are demanding apologies. We are demanding people be fired. We are demanding compensation, even though it could never be enough. We are raising hell...and finally, finally, action is being taken, things that should be recognized are being recognized. To NTM, there is bath water and there are babies. The bath water must be thrown out. To the extent that a few babies must go with the bathwater to ensure that the bathwater is gone, well, enough said.

I am highly confident that within the next few years, NTM will dissolve. Any assets it has remaining will be contributed to a new organization with a new name, with a new methodology and a new attitude. They had better get it right this time.

To the supporters of NTM who have given their hard earned money over the years, I apologize in many cases for the lack of return you have received on your money. Not only did some of your money assist the criminals in their crimes, your money is now going to investigate the crimes and compensate the victims.

To all of the other missionaries, leaders or not, who were around at that time, consider what part you may have played in these crimes, indirectly, if not directly. As a kid, I was aware of abuse that had taken place in some of the countries mentioned. I can only assume that some of you knew alot more than I knew. I did not see nearly enough action to ensure this type of thing did not occur. I did not see nearly enough hell raised. Let's not all blame our inaction on the inaction of leaders. The leaders were cut from the same cloth as the rest of the rank and file. The leaders were themselves victims of those who had gone before them.

To the victims of these crimes and other evil acts, I apologize that I myself, even though a mere MK, did not do enough to protect you. I'm not sure what I could have done, but I could have done more. When I became an adult, I could have raised some serious hell like some of you started doing on this blog. I did not, and I apologize for that. But, I stand with you now. Keep the good fight, and stick to the methods that will bring about true results and change.

Author:  Gene Long [ Wed Sep 22, 2010 2:15 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Legal Options

Yunker wrote:
So the answer is quit before you begin?? hmmm not in my books. I would rather lose all I have and know I went for it. Just me.


My dear Yunker, nothing could be further from the point I am trying to make! There is a great deal of value in filing civil claims, though that does not usually include a pot of gold at the end of the ordeal. And "ordeal" is a mild word to describe it.

Your outrage is not only justified, it is appropritate; it is admirable. I do not want to detract from that at all. My contribution to this discussion is not to try to talk anyone out of suing, but to bring some realistic expectations to the table. Piles of money are not to be expected.

A quick review of the Banana Suit will help verify this. Neither the survivors of the murdered missionaries nor NTM expect to hit the jackpot on this one. "Closure" is one goal one widow seeks. She may get this, but it won't be in terms of dollars and cents. Chiquita is not even going to settle out of court any time soon; there are too many other potential claims against them.

In 1994, O. J. Simpson was arrested and charged with two murders. These are criminal acts, and he was tried in criminal court. The glove didn't fit, so he walked. Not everyone was happy with the verdict, but that is how our system and works. And, it is just as well that it is difficult to convict someone of a crime for which they could be executed.

While "murder" is a criminal offense, there is something called "wrongful death." That is a civil offense, and a suit is usually filed in an attempt to recoup losses from a death that either was not a criminal offense of for which there was no criminal conviction - as in the case of the O. J. Simpson trial.

The survivors of the two slain victims filed such a suit against Mr. Simpson in 1997. They won, and were awarded damages in the sum of $33,500,000. Ten years later. . . they were still trying to collect. As O. Thornery, Esq. pointed out, winning and collecting are not the same thing.

So, why sue? Reasons vary, I'm sure. But, here is a start. . .

1. You might win. And, you might collect. People gamble for the same reason, and some gamblers win.

2. It is often in the best interests of the bad guy to settle out of court - to offer the good guy a payment to knock it off and go away. When the good guy has suffered monetary loss, this will often make him happy and a settlement is reached. However, this sort of settlement is almost never reached without the pressure of an active lawsuit.

3. A lawsuit can create negative publicity for the bad guy. [Thornery, you will have to forgive my use of technical terms here; I have misplaced my legal dictionary!] This gives the good guy a sense of justice being served - a way of making the bad guy "pay" for his actions. See number 2, above.

4. Sometimes, the good guy just wants "behavior modification" on the part of the bad guy. In the example an attorney gave me (see first post in this thread), the good guy just wanted the bad guy to quit defaming him. By pressing a civil suit for defamation, he was able to extract just such an outcome. It cost him (as there was no financial settlement in that case), but he evidently felt it was better to spend some money than have his reputation suffer further harm.

5. In some cases, and justly so, it is an attempt to empoverish the bad guy. That is what the survivors of the victims in the O. J. Simpson case sought to do. It has worked out that he had gotten away with murder; they did not want him to get rich off of that.

6. It is better than any other alternative. More on other alternatives later. . . .

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