Scott v. Ross

a United States civil suit, brought against deprogrammer Rick Ross, two of his associates, and the Cult Awareness Network (CAN), for the violent abduction and failed deprogramming of Jason Scott, a member of a Pentecostalist church. CAN was a co-defendant because a CAN contact person had referred Scott's mother to Rick Ross. The nine-member jury unanimously held the defendants liable forconspirac] to deprive Scott of his civil rights and religious liberties. In addition, the jury held that Ross and his associates (but not CAN) "intentionally or recklessly acted in a way so outrageous in character and so extreme in degree as to go beyond all possible bounds of decency and to be regarded as atrocious and utterly intolerable in a civilized community." The case resulted in an award of $875,000 in compensatory damages and punitive damages in the amount of $1,000,000 against CAN, $2,500,000 against Ross, and $250,000 against each of Ross's two accomplices. CAN appealed the decision, but a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the award in April 1998, two of the three judges finding against CAN, with the third judge dissenting. In August 1998, the full 9th Circuit court voted against reconsidering the case. The case bankrupted the Cult Awareness Network and marked a watershed for new religious movements in North America.

Court Documents
Opinion of the Court
Dissenting Opinion
Wikipedia-logo-v2.svg Wikipedia article

140 F.3d 1275

JASON SCOTT, Plaintiff-Appellee


RICK ROSS, aka Rickey Allen Ross; MARK WORKMAN; CHARLES SIMPSON, Defendants, and CULT AWARENESS NETWORK, a California Non-Profit Corp., Defendant-Appellant

No. 96-35050

United States Court of Appeals,
Ninth Circuit.

September 11, 1997, Argued, Submitted, Seattle, Washington

April 8, 1998, Filed

Paul Lawrence and Ramona M. Emerson, Preston, Gates & Ellis, Seattle, Washington, for the defendant-appellant.

Eric M. Lieberman, Rabinowitz, Boudin, Standard, Krinsky & Lieberman, New York, New York, for the plaintiff-appellee.

David J. Bardin, Arent, Fox, Kintner, Plotkin & Kahn, Washington, D.C., for amici curiae American Family Foundation, HALT - an Organization of Americans for Legal Reform, Jews for Judaism, and Watchman Fellowship on Agency, Vicarious Liability and First Amendment Issues.

Before: Mary M. Schroeder and Robert R. Beezer, Circuit Judges, and William W Schwarzer,[1] Senior District Judge. Opinion by Judge Beezer; Dissent by Judge Schwarzer.


  1. The Honorable William W Schwarzer, Senior United States District Judge for the Northern District of California, sitting by designation.