Judge says lawsuit is not specific enough, so the Costa Mesa group plans to refile defamation suit against a member’s son.
COSTA MESA — An Orange County Superior Court Judge ruled Wednesday that a lawsuit by the Piecemakers against the son of one of the group’s members lacked basic and specific information. But the judge will allow the group 20 days to resubmit the claim.
The Piecemakers live communally in Mesa Verde and run a country store on Adams Avenue. They have been characterized by some experts as a cult and have had numerous run-ins with city and county government for refusing to submit to building and health inspections.
The Piecemakers filed a $5 million lawsuit in May, without the assistance of an attorney, alleging that the member’s son, Tom Halliburton, defamed them and violated their civil rights by posting critical letters on the Internet.
Halliburton sent e-mails to vendors who deal with the Piecemakers, calling them a destructive cult and encouraging vendors to read Ronald Enroth‘s book “Churches that Abuse,” which devotes a chapter to the group.
Halliburton’s mother, Donna, left him and four siblings when they were children to live with the Piecemakers. He believes the Piecemakers are responsible for his mother abandoning him, his parents’ divorce and the brainwashing of some members for the benefit and profit of a select few members, according to a motion filed by Halliburton’s attorney, Joseph Donahue.
Piecemakers are paid $10 a week for their work in the Country Store, Marie Kolasinski, the group’s leader, has said.
Halliburton’s attorney said Judge Sheila Fell’s decision was a positive one. Donahue, who described the Piecemakers as self-righteous and sanctimonious, said they told him they intended to follow this course of action to victory.
The Piecemakers have asked for a written apology in addition to monetary compensation.
None of the Piecemakers could not be reached for comment.
Halliburton doesn’t intend to back down, Donahue said.
“He intends to exercise his constitutional rights and voice his constitutional opinion as to what he believes is the wrongdoing of that society or that organization,” Donahue said.