Author Topic: The Desmond Family v. Narconon of Georgia, Narconon International, et al  (Read 227023 times)

Offline Mary_McConnell

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Thanks, ethercat!!  \*/

BigBeard, the most important thing to know is that this case is going to trial next week and we will know lots more because of that!! Hang in there :)
« Last Edit: February 06, 2013, 20:20 by Mary_McConnell »
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Offline ethercat

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Ok, here's the next part; it's gonna take some time for me to write everything up.

There were a lot of Motions in Limine filed just before the hearing, so I guess the easiest way for me to try to explain this all is to take the motions I think of as the most important first, and explain them and how they relate.  My time sequences may not be exactly correct, because the arguments and discussion really seemed to wander all over the place.

Narconon International's new lawyer, Mr. Jay Bennett, seemed to have just realized the day of the pretrial hearing that there were RICO claims against his clients.  I don't know why he hadn't read the complaints first, or why the other lawyers (Cheryl Shaw and David Root - not Narconon's David Root, as he endeavored to make clear multiple times) didn't inform Mr. Bennett about that beforehand, or if he was putting on an act for the court, but what he said was that when he came into the case in November, it was a wrongful death case, and now it had turned into RICO. 

This was the basis for his argument for a continuance.

I say: Very disingenuous, Mr. Bennett, as the RICO claims were filed back in March! 

He went on to say that now new claims had been added, without notice, to the case.  He listed a few, and exclaimed, "These are intentional crimes!"  The judge just looked at him and said seriously, "I know what they are."

NNI's counsel said "It's not fair to add charges this late with no time to prepare!" and argued that the Plaintiffs couldn't add new claims this close before the trial, using this as an additional argument for their Motion for Continuance.

Then there launched a discussion of the "new claims".  Here's some history behind these:

There was mention in the Western World documents of a 2nd Amended Complaint written by the Desmonds' team that was circulated among the parties, but not filed into the case:
http://alley.ethercat.com/storage/US-1-12-cv-02117-AT/US-1-12-cv-02117-AT-2013-01-08-SecondAmendmentToComplaintForDeclaratoryJudgment-ExhibitA-49-1.pdf

Pages 2 and 3:
Quote
168.
The Desmonds have circulated, but not filed, a draft Second Amended Complaint (the "Draft Second Amended Complaint") regarding the Underlying Action. The Draft Second Amended Complaint sets forth additional predicate acts to their Georgia RICO claims, but does not allege any new counts.
169.
The Desmonds, in the Draft Second Amended Complaint, allege that the Desmonds "have been directly damaged by at least one predicate act and the remaining predicate acts are evidence of Defendants' operation of an enterprise both before and after Patrick Desmond's death."
170.
The Desmonds, in the Draft Second Amended Complaint, allege the existence of claims, billing, reimbursement, and reporting discrepancies and other misrepresentations by Narconon of Georgia.
171.
The Desmonds, in the Draft Second Amended Complaint, allege that Narconon of Georgia profited from the enumerated predicate acts and that Narconon International and others profited from Narconon of Georgia's
operations.
172.
The Desmonds, in the Draft Second Amended Complaint, allege facts which they contend "constitute mail and wire fraud under Georgia law."
173.
The Desmonds, in the Draft Second Amended Complaint, allege that Narconon of Georgia profited from the enumerated predicate acts and that Narconon International and others benefitted from Narconon of Georgia's
operations.

This 2nd Amended Complaint was never filed, but the claims in it were added to the pretrial order.  There is an example of a pretrial order in the Uniform Rules of Superior Court, page 26, but basically it serves as an outline of the case, what all parties think are the outstanding issues, etc - a planning guide for the trial. 

So, the Pretrial Order had these claims added, and here are the things that make up these claims (hope my memory is right on this stuff):
  • Perjury - Mary Rieser, Tracey Stepler, etc, etc, lots of perjury going on in this case
  • Witness intimidation - Tracey Stepler was an employee of NN at the time of the depo.  Everytime she lied, she looked up at the ceiling and started to cry.  (There is accommodation in Ga. law for the unspoken threat of losing your job - I think this is what it meant.),   Jeff pointed out that NN Int policy says that for an employee to testify against NN is a "high crime".  NNI challenged that, and Jeff said he will get the reference for that to the court.
  • Theft by conversion - lying about being a residential rehab
  • Involuntary manslaughter - Patrick
  • Wire/mail fraud - Faxes, emails, letters to drug courts, websites, etc.

Harris argued:
But these are not new claims. They are "predicate acts" to the RICO claims that were filed back in the Plaintiffs' First Amended Complaint.  In order for RICO to apply, there must be 2 predicate acts that are proven.  These are the acts that will apply to the RICO.

There was discussion of whether or not these were new.  The judge ruled that the only new claim was Insurance Fraud.  Harris said he would give that one up for this case, since he said, "I have plenty."  He only has to prove 2 of them for RICO to apply.

And so the Motion for Continuance was denied.

On the Motion for Separate Trials, NN Int argued that since NNI and NNG are separate entities, they should have separate trials.  They said that NNG's "criminal trial" might complicate the case if NNI and NNG are tried together.  (See what they tried to do there?)

The judge reminded NNI's counsel that there is no "criminal trial" that NNG is involved in; that there is a "criminal investigation."  Jeff says the two should be tried together so that NNI's statements do not go unchallenged.

And the judge denied the Motion for Separate Trials.


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Offline SocialTransparency

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 o--OL--o o--OL--o o--OL--o o--OL--o o--OL--o o--OL--o o--OL--o o--OL--o o--OL--o

\oO--Oo/ \oO--Oo/ \oO--Oo/ \oO--Oo/ \oO--Oo/ \oO--Oo/ \oO--Oo/ \oO--Oo/ \oO--Oo/

||O|| ||O|| ||O|| ||O|| ||O|| ||O|| ||O|| ||O|| ||O|| ||O|| ||O|| ||O|| ||O|| ||O||

Ok, here's the next part; it's gonna take some time for me to write everything up.

There were a lot of Motions in Limine filed just before the hearing, so I guess the easiest way for me to try to explain this all is to take the motions I think of as the most important first, and explain them and how they relate.  My time sequences may not be exactly correct, because the arguments and discussion really seemed to wander all over the place.

Narconon International's new lawyer, Mr. Jay Bennett, seemed to have just realized the day of the pretrial hearing that there were RICO claims against his clients.  I don't know why he hadn't read the complaints first, or why the other lawyers (Cheryl Shaw and David Root - not Narconon's David Root, as he endeavored to make clear multiple times) didn't inform Mr. Bennett about that beforehand, or if he was putting on an act for the court, but what he said was that when he came into the case in November, it was a wrongful death case, and now it had turned into RICO. 

This was the basis for his argument for a continuance.

I say: Very disingenuous, Mr. Bennett, as the RICO claims were filed back in March! 

He went on to say that now new claims had been added, without notice, to the case.  He listed a few, and exclaimed, "These are intentional crimes!"  The judge just looked at him and said seriously, "I know what they are."

NNI's counsel said "It's not fair to add charges this late with no time to prepare!" and argued that the Plaintiffs couldn't add new claims this close before the trial, using this as an additional argument for their Motion for Continuance.

Then there launched a discussion of the "new claims".  Here's some history behind these:

There was mention in the Western World documents of a 2nd Amended Complaint written by the Desmonds' team that was circulated among the parties, but not filed into the case:
http://alley.ethercat.com/storage/US-1-12-cv-02117-AT/US-1-12-cv-02117-AT-2013-01-08-SecondAmendmentToComplaintForDeclaratoryJudgment-ExhibitA-49-1.pdf

Pages 2 and 3:
Quote
168.
The Desmonds have circulated, but not filed, a draft Second Amended Complaint (the "Draft Second Amended Complaint") regarding the Underlying Action. The Draft Second Amended Complaint sets forth additional predicate acts to their Georgia RICO claims, but does not allege any new counts.
169.
The Desmonds, in the Draft Second Amended Complaint, allege that the Desmonds "have been directly damaged by at least one predicate act and the remaining predicate acts are evidence of Defendants' operation of an enterprise both before and after Patrick Desmond's death."
170.
The Desmonds, in the Draft Second Amended Complaint, allege the existence of claims, billing, reimbursement, and reporting discrepancies and other misrepresentations by Narconon of Georgia.
171.
The Desmonds, in the Draft Second Amended Complaint, allege that Narconon of Georgia profited from the enumerated predicate acts and that Narconon International and others profited from Narconon of Georgia's
operations.
172.
The Desmonds, in the Draft Second Amended Complaint, allege facts which they contend "constitute mail and wire fraud under Georgia law."
173.
The Desmonds, in the Draft Second Amended Complaint, allege that Narconon of Georgia profited from the enumerated predicate acts and that Narconon International and others benefitted from Narconon of Georgia's
operations.

This 2nd Amended Complaint was never filed, but the claims in it were added to the pretrial order.  There is an example of a pretrial order in the Uniform Rules of Superior Court, page 26, but basically it serves as an outline of the case, what all parties think are the outstanding issues, etc - a planning guide for the trial. 

So, the Pretrial Order had these claims added, and here are the things that make up these claims (hope my memory is right on this stuff):
  • Perjury - Mary Rieser, Tracey Stepler, etc, etc, lots of perjury going on in this case
  • Witness intimidation - Tracey Stepler was an employee of NN at the time of the depo.  Everytime she lied, she looked up at the ceiling and started to cry.  (There is accommodation in Ga. law for the unspoken threat of losing your job - I think this is what it meant.),   Jeff pointed out that NN Int policy says that for an employee to testify against NN is a "high crime".  NNI challenged that, and Jeff said he will get the reference for that to the court.
  • Theft by conversion - lying about being a residential rehab
  • Involuntary manslaughter - Patrick
  • Wire/mail fraud - Faxes, emails, letters to drug courts, websites, etc.

Harris argued:
But these are not new claims. They are "predicate acts" to the RICO claims that were filed back in the Plaintiffs' First Amended Complaint.  In order for RICO to apply, there must be 2 predicate acts that are proven.  These are the acts that will apply to the RICO.

There was discussion of whether or not these were new.  The judge ruled that the only new claim was Insurance Fraud.  Harris said he would give that one up for this case, since he said, "I have plenty."  He only has to prove 2 of them for RICO to apply.

And so the Motion for Continuance was denied.

On the Motion for Separate Trials, NN Int argued that since NNI and NNG are separate entities, they should have separate trials.  They said that NNG's "criminal trial" might complicate the case if NNI and NNG are tried together.  (See what they tried to do there?)

The judge reminded NNI's counsel that there is no "criminal trial" that NNG is involved in; that there is a "criminal investigation."  Jeff says the two should be tried together so that NNI's statements do not go unchallenged.

And the judge denied the Motion for Separate Trials.



Edit: removed some epilepsy inducing dancing smilies.  -ec
« Last Edit: February 06, 2013, 21:16 by ethercat »

Offline Mary_McConnell

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8:O8P|() Thank you, ethercat!
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Offline snippy

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 L-O-:   :OV--*   

The ditzy routine of the NN lawyers seems ill advised at this stage of the game. What are they thinking?

Offline Mary_McConnell

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L-O-:   :OV--*   

The ditzy routine of the NN lawyers seems ill advised at this stage of the game. What are they thinking?

Desperation, lol
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Offline ethercat

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There was a Motion to Exclude References to the Church of Scientology, and that was tied into the Motion to Exclude the Testimony of Stephen Kent.

Defense argued that all Stephen Kent could testify to were matters related to the "Church" and Hubbard, and that is not needed because it's not a case about scientology.  The issue of whether this was a "daubert motion" was discussed.  I was not familiar with a daubert motion, so I looked it up and found in wikipedia:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daubert_standard
Quote
Although trial judges have always had the authority to exclude inappropriate testimony, prior to Daubert, trial courts often preferred to let juries hear evidence proffered by both sides.[6] Once certain evidence has been excluded by a Daubert motion because it fails to meet the relevancy and reliability standard, it will likely be challenged when introduced again in another trial. Even though a Daubert motion is not binding to other courts of law, if something was found untrustworthy by one court, other judges may choose to follow that precedent. Of course, a decision by the Court of Appeals that a piece of evidence is inadmissible under Daubert would be binding on district courts within that court's jurisdiction.

There was discussion I recall about whether the various experts Narconon wanted to exclude would be permanently affected by being excluded as a result of a daubert motion, so I guess that ^^^ explains the discussion.  Jed Manton, who we've seen on some filings on behalf of the Plaintiffs, said that a daubert motion challenges qualifications, not relevancy.

It would be awful if Stephen Kent were to be regarded as untrustworthy in other cases in the future, although it would be something that scientology/Narconon would have absolutely loved to walk away with.  But they won't.   ;D

This then prompted the discussion about whether references to the "church" would be excluded.  NN doesn't want the "church" discussed because it's not viewed favorably by the public (including jurors), and because they say it's not relevant to the case.   

Judge Hydrick said she doesn't see how scientology is not relevant to this case (in other words, she thinks it is very relevant to the case), and that she was inclined to deny the motion to exclude discussion of scientology, but that she will not let Plaintiffs bash scientology either.   Jeff spoke up and said he would prove that Narconon is meant to introduce, teach, and recruit members for scientology.  The judge said she would allow that, and denied both of the motions. 

References to the "Church" of Scientology will be allowed, and Stephen Kent will be allowed to testify as to the connection between Narconon and Scientology.
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Offline ethercat

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ST, I'm glad you're happy enough to dance, but your pageful of dancing smilies are making my eyes go all wonky (and might cause a seizure in someone prone to epilepsy), so I'm going to snip some of them.  I hope you don't mind.   ;)
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Offline ethercat

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Thanks for the clarification, EC. 

By the way, just saw this on the case docket: PLTFS MOTION TO STRIKE THE UNTIMELY DAUGBERT MOTIONS FILED BY DEFS ON DRS KENT, BLANK AND RUSHING

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daubert_standard#Daubert_motion:_timing

Quote
Daubert motion: timing

To attack expert testimony as inadmissible, counsel may bring pretrial motions, including motions in limine.[7] The motion in limine may be brought prior to trial, although counsel may bring the motion during trial as well.[8]

A motion attacking expert testimony should be brought within a reasonable time after the close of discovery if the grounds for the objection can be reasonably anticipated.[9] The hearing should be made well in advance of the first time a case appears on a trial calendar.

Exactly.  Stephen Kent's deposition was taken on January 5, 2012.  Over a year ago.

But the filing of that causes me to wonder if I misremembered about the denial to exclude his testimony...    <checking ST's post>  No, he has it as denied also.  Maybe there's another reason to strike the motion, maybe having to do with the reputation problem mentioned in my other post.
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Offline SocialTransparency

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ST, I'm glad you're happy enough to dance, but your pageful of dancing smilies are making my eyes go all wonky (and might cause a seizure in someone prone to epilepsy), so I'm going to snip some of them.  I hope you don't mind.   ;)


 I sad now. :'(

Offline Mary_McConnell

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ST, I'm glad you're happy enough to dance, but your pageful of dancing smilies are making my eyes go all wonky (and might cause a seizure in someone prone to epilepsy), so I'm going to snip some of them.  I hope you don't mind.   ;)


 I sad now. :'(

Don't be sad! At least we have a memory of the original :)
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Offline mefree

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ST, I'm glad you're happy enough to dance, but your pageful of dancing smilies are making my eyes go all wonky (and might cause a seizure in someone prone to epilepsy), so I'm going to snip some of them.  I hope you don't mind.   ;)

I'm seizing now.....lol @u@ooo

No really, I'm seizing with delight over how the case is shaping up!
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Offline Witnessman

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Robert F. Kennedy:

"Give me a place to stand," said Archimedes, "and I will move the world." These men moved the world, and so can we all. Few will have the greatness to bend history itself, but each of us can work to change a small portion of events, and in the total of all those acts will be written the history of this generation. Thousands of Peace Corps volunteers are making a difference in isolated villages and city slums in dozens of countries. Thousands of unknown men and women in Europe resisted the occupation of the Nazis and many died, but all added to the ultimate strength and freedom of their countries. It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped. Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance."

Thank you.

Offline Mary_McConnell

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Tony Ortega weighs in on the WTSP-tv. 10 News Tampa Bay's 10 News Mike Deeson Investigation into Narconon and gives big mention of upcoming Desmond trial

Quote
NARCONON CONTINUES TO GRAB ATTENTION AS GEORGIA TRIAL NEARS

Monday, a trial is scheduled to begin in Atlanta that will consider whether Scientology’s drug rehab facility there, Narconon Georgia, is liable in the 2008 death of one of its patients, Patrick Desmond. We’ve been covering the case, which has produced stunning documents that spell out the deceptive practices which appear endemic to the Narconon business model. And those revelations, along with patient deaths that occurred at Narconon’s flagship operation in Oklahoma, is raising awareness that Scientology’s drug rehab program is more about spreading the church’s philosophies and making money than delivering care.

As a sign of that, check out this report which aired last night in Tampa, home to one of Scientology’s main strongholds, and also the location of several Narconon centers. While we think the report could have gone even further to show how Narconon has been controlled by Scientology, this is still a remarkable report and a sign of how the media is catching on to this aspect of Scientology’s moment of crisis…
http://tonyortega.org/2013/02/07/jenna-miscavige-hill-continues-her-media-blitz-more-scientology-news-in-thursday-roundup/

Video of the show:
http://bcove.me/zqg3royl
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Offline Duped Parent

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Why is the mother interviewed last week on the issue of insurance fraud not being called to testify?!? Obviously she was an incredible intelligent witness who seems to have proof of NN of GA fraudulently practices? What occurred years ago to the Desmond family seems to be the normal standard of operations. Mary R. sold this family the same bull sh@# they did the Desmond's....the only difference is that little girl didn't die on Narcanons watch.

Offline Mary_McConnell

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Why is the mother interviewed last week on the issue of insurance fraud not being called to testify?!? Obviously she was an incredible intelligent witness who seems to have proof of NN of GA fraudulently practices? What occurred years ago to the Desmond family seems to be the normal standard of operations. Mary R. sold this family the same bull sh@# they did the Desmond's....the only difference is that little girl didn't die on Narcanons watch.

I think you misunderstood. The insurance matter is just not being included in the civil RICO claims part of this case, as it is a new matter not related to the Desmond case which was just brought to the attention of the court. It, in itself, will be a separate case and matter. The fraud is currently under investigation by the state at this time and once that is completed, other steps will most likely be taken, criminally and civilly. The state Insurance commission is best equipt to fully investigate.

Hope this helps.

ps:
I also want to add that not only is Mary Morton a well spoken, intelligent woman, but that she is also a brave and loving mother who has the admiration and respect of many people for speaking out about the fraud and the program, and for doing all she can to help her daughter.   

*S*(*oo
« Last Edit: February 07, 2013, 21:13 by Mary_McConnell »
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Offline ethercat

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Why is the mother interviewed last week on the issue of insurance fraud not being called to testify?!? Obviously she was an incredible intelligent witness who seems to have proof of NN of GA fraudulently practices? What occurred years ago to the Desmond family seems to be the normal standard of operations. Mary R. sold this family the same bull sh@# they did the Desmond's....the only difference is that little girl didn't die on Narcanons watch.

Hi Duped Parent.  The mother, Mary Morton, is being called to testify, but not to the insurance fraud, but to the program having been presented as a residential program, which they are not licensed by the Department of Community Health (DCH) to deliver.  I was going to write this up in my coverage of the hearing, but I hadn't gotten to that part yet.

The reason she will not be testifying to the insurance fraud is that the Desmonds were not subjected to insurance fraud, and therefore, there is no "basis" for it in the case (using basis as a legal term, not the usual definition).

She is very intelligible and well-spoken, and I believe she will be very convincing to the jury.  I admire her willingness to come forward, and to pursue the insurance fraud.  I also wish her daughter the best, as I do with all of the people who went to Narconon and received no legitimate substance abuse treatment.

Edit: Oh, and thank God her daughter didn't die.   -0=|
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Offline Mary_McConnell

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Thanks for the update and response, ethercat. Glad to hear that Mary Morton is testifying.
I am a volunteer advocate for victims of the Narconon scam. I am a former scientologist. I post anonymously. Mary McConnell is my long time nom de plume. Feel free to contact me for assistance in righting the wrongs.

Offline Mary_McConnell

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Robert F. Kennedy:

"Give me a place to stand," said Archimedes, "and I will move the world." These men moved the world, and so can we all. Few will have the greatness to bend history itself, but each of us can work to change a small portion of events, and in the total of all those acts will be written the history of this generation. Thousands of Peace Corps volunteers are making a difference in isolated villages and city slums in dozens of countries. Thousands of unknown men and women in Europe resisted the occupation of the Nazis and many died, but all added to the ultimate strength and freedom of their countries. It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped. Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance."

Thank you.
Thanks for your support and participation, Witnessman.
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Offline BigBeard

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Hi Duped Parent.  The mother, Mary Morton, is being called to testify, but not to the insurance fraud, but to the program having been presented as a residential program, which they are not licensed by the Department of Community Health (DCH) to deliver.  I was going to write this up in my coverage of the hearing, but I hadn't gotten to that part yet.

The reason she will not be testifying to the insurance fraud is that the Desmonds were not subjected to insurance fraud, and therefore, there is no "basis" for it in the case (using basis as a legal term, not the usual definition).

Be interesting to see if NN GA/NN INT lawyers screw up and open up the insurance fraud can of worms during their cross examination of Mary Morton.

BigBeard