WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court today spared the Church of Scientology from posting a $60-million surety bond while appealing a lawsuit lost to a former member who says the church ruined him financially and emotionally.
The court granted an emergency request by church officials to suspend the payment pending further appeals.
Scientology lawyers said forcing the payment would bankrupt the church, whose net worth they put at $13 million, including $8 million that might have to be paid in back taxes in a separate pending dispute.
A jury in Los Angeles awarded former Scientologist Larry Wollersheim $5 million in compensatory damages and $25 million in punitive damages.
Wollersheim, 37, said that after he fell out of favor with the organization, church members harassed him and tried to drive his novelty business into bankruptcy.