Attorney Luke Lirot (documents)
Luke Lirot: I’m very flattered. Ms. Britton – I’ve watched her as a human being work herself through this tragedy.
In the McPherson case, the personal representative was Lisa McPherson’s aunt. Her mother passed away during the case. And while she had a great love for Lisa, it wasn’t that very close personal relationship that I’ve come to know and respect with Victoria Britton and her son Kyle.
And to watch the effort and the sacrifice to participate in what is one very, very, very vigorous, excruciating litigation while at the same time trying to assuage your grief and deal with your loss.
If you can just keep it together – the strength that I have seen from that woman has been unparalleled, and I probably respect her as much as I have respected anybody in my entire life for her fortitude, for her dedication; and let’s just say she has a moral certainty that I think keeps her going.
But it’s the only one talking about all night that makes any sense to me. I truly, I love her with every cell of my body. I respect him so much I can’t even put it into words.
She gets so much credit for standing up and doing what she thinks is right and in the same process dealing with her loss.
That’s more pressure than a lot of people could ever take, and she’s done it. And she’s handled it like a champion, and I commend her from the bottom of my heart
That’s an Olympic gold medal all the way from my perspective.
Rush to judgment; Steven D. Merryday
Judge Merryday’s ruling had ignored crucial facts in the case, Lirot argued.
It never properly addressed the implications of Scientology’s dogmatic opposition to psychiatric drugs and the authoritarian nature of its ethics system governing members’ behavior.
And it had concluded that there was “no genuine issue of material fact” to put to a jury.
But the plaintiff’s contention that Tom Brennan had confiscated his son’s medication was not groundless speculation. It was supported by Brennan’s own initial statements to the police.
“His testimony is inconsistent, and the District Court, painfully, disregarded these inconsistencies….,” wrote Lirot.
“Under any analysis of the record, in this case, the ‘voluntariness’ of the disuse of Lexapro is a disputed issue.”20
Judge Merryday had also ruled that those targetted in the lawsuit had no duty of care to Kyle Brennan.
But Lirot argued: “Kyle’s psychiatric ailments were known, the importance of his continual taking of Lexapro was communicated, and the results of this tragedy were foreseeable.”(Lirot’s emphasis)21
And if there was any dispute over the question of foreseeability, well – that too should have been left for a jury to decide, he added.
Citing case law, Lirot argued: “A judge should only remove the question from the jury if there is a total absence of evidence to support an inference that the intervening cause was foreseeable.’”22
That was not the case here, he wrote.
Scientology’s legal team had cited a wealth of case law in defense of their clients, Lirot noted. But certain aspects of this affair made it unique.
For one thing, he argued, “…none of these cases involved an ‘International Church’ with a well-known and militant aversion to psychotropic drugs.”
For another, he argued: “Taking away important psychiatric medication and negligently leaving a handgun and easily available ammunition accessible to a person with known psychological problems creates an entirely different factual scenario.”23
The plaintiffs did not dispute the right of Scientologists to their beliefs and their right to express their anti-psychiatry views, wrote Lirot.
But those beliefs could not be imposed on non-believers. And this, he argued, was exactly what had happened here, with tragic consequences.
“This is a case about negligent and invasive conduct, not religious freedom. The District Court erred by glossing over this huge fact.”24