Re: Why attorneys are daunted by cult litigation
Date: April 10, 2019 12:14PM
Playing with fire...
I have been grappling with all of this. I know nothing about the law, but in just trying to follow simple logic, combined with my experiences, I come up with this:
I am considering the LGAT paperwork that is signed, (in my case, with Landmark), and other agreements that are made, in the light of how binding much of it really is. I am trying to realistically look at the legal ramifications, the points over which an LGAT would be likely, (or unlikely), to take one to court, and the chances of these contracts actually standing up in court if they were challenged. I am also trying to discern how much of the time they are just playing "chicken."
Starting with the consent form; most of us have agreed that it doesn't give anyone a clue of what they actually do, stating only that the program is:
"... a series of philosophically rigorous and open discussions, voluntary sharing of your experience and short exercises, the Program provides an opportunity to explore basic questions that have been of interest to human beings throughout time and to examine many aspects of your own life."
Nothing here about thought-reform, sleep deprivation, gaslighting, privacy invasion, harrassment, intimidation, humiliation, etc. Only philosophically rigorous and open discussions. Therefore, no informed consent. I would suspect that if the consent form were challenged in court, and some of the elements more closely examined, it would be found to be an "unconscionable contract."
On to non-disclosure agreements, which I saw both as agreements that were signed on paper, and also verbal agreements:
I clearly remember one instance where a staff member had me alone, and spoke about one of the tactics they use on "hard cases." She stated that they would not use this tactic on me, and then extracted an agreement from me that I would not say anything. A few days later, they began using that very tactic on me.
I am quite certain that the way that the (above-mentioned) tactic was implemented is illegal. If it is within the law, (by a hair's breadth), it would still be considered extremely unethical by virtually anyone, so they wouldn't want it to get out. If I disclose Landmark's use of this tactic, I could descend to elementary school level and say, "She reneged first," and consider the agreement invalidated because of that; but when I consider how she got me alone before telling me about it, I would expect her, (as typical of Landmark), to say that the conversation "never happened," (They seem to say that a lot, and about all sorts of things). Turning Landmark's logic back on itself; if the conversation "never happened," then it would follow that I never promised that I wouldn't say anything about it. How could I have?
Alternatively, if they wanted to take me to court for disclosure, that would be an implication on their part that there actually is something to disclose, and that my account was reasonably accurate. The court records would then be available to the public. Considering the (probable) illegality of the tactic in question, I would not expect any penalty, imposed by the court on me, to be too harsh. In the meantime, the information about their methods would become available to anyone.
The final example I can give is about information we were given, in my last seminar, about a course that seemingly doesn't exist, if you look for it on their website. The materials handed out sing it's praises as a powerful, transformative course, that very few people have taken. Having been through it, from my perspective, it seemed more like a vicious "disciplinary" course to intimidate and bring into line anyone who criticizes anything at all about Landmark.
Once again, if they were to take someone to court for giving out information about the course, they would be, in effect, admitting it's existence. I'm betting they won't.
Of course, none of this will protect me from harrassment, or worse, but from a legal standpoint, I'm not overly concerned.
Having said that, I don't expect them to "play fair." Here's what I would actually worry about:
1) In my humble opinion, they're thugs. The way that they operate reminds me more than anything of organized crime. I would not put anything past them if they should seek revenge.
2) They could accuse me of slander, (though it actually isn't slander, being true). This would put me in the position of having to prove my allegations. At this point, I do have a fairly decent list of people who I could ask my attorney to subpoena, and at least some of them, would probably tell the truth . Others would probably not.
In order to accuse me, they would first have to identify me. Though there are probably people at Landmark who could identify me, they would have to do so by narrowing it down to the group of people who were subjected to their most abusive practices. I'm sure my attorney would ask them to explain how they arrived at the conclusion that I had been the one to post it. Once again, in doing so, they would likely incriminate themselves.
3) They could claim that I am mentally ill, and if I can't give strong evidence of my allegations, they would use the allegations themselves as evidence of that.
They do talk about the virtues of being "unreasonable," and also seem to value unpredictability, (but only in themselves. They want participants to be predictable - that makes them easier to manipulate). They then engage in crazy, and crazymaking, behaviour, so that anyone reporting their actions sounds a little unbalanced, at best. I'm am sure that this is all calculated to the nth degree, for exactly that effect.