TAMPA – A lawyer suing the Church of Scientology has filed a motion asking to withdraw from the wrongful death case – but he doesn’t really mean it.
Kennan Dandar says the state judge who ordered him to withdraw doesn’t have jurisdiction in federal court. He also says he doesn’t want to abandon his client, who blames the church for her son’s death.
The highly unusual motion is rooted in the longstanding animus between the church and Dandar.
The order to withdraw wasn’t available, although court records suggest it may be related to Dandar’s involvement in an earlier wrongful death lawsuit against the church.
In court filings in the current case, the church said Dandar “has a substantial rap sheet of litigation misconduct. It is clear that he is a rogue lawyer who operates unconstrained by facts, law or ethics.”
Dandar responded to that accusation by writing that the church was engaging in character assassination as part of its “doctrine to attack anyone who makes claims against Scientology, particularly the plaintiff’s lawyer.”
The exchange took place in June and July in what turned out to be an unsuccessful motion by Scientology to have the federal court sanction Dandar for filing the lawsuit against the church on behalf of Victoria L. Britton in the death of her son, Kyle Thomas Brennan.
The lawsuit alleges Scientologists, including Brennan’s father, took his antidepressant prescription from him and gave him access to a loaded gun.
The church says Brennan committed suicide with no provocation. A Clearwater police investigation concluded no one else was responsible for his suicide.
Dandar also represented the relatives of Scientologist Lisa McPherson in their wrongful death lawsuit against the church. McPherson died in 1995 after 17 days of care by Scientology staffers in Clearwater.