Plans for a multimillion-dollar family life center next to Robert Schuller's Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove could be delayed by legal action today.
An Orange County judge is scheduled to hear arguments to delay destruction of 19 apartments on the site for the planned center. The delay is being sought because of a contract dispute between the ministry and two people who have accused two of the TV minister's aides of misleading them.
An attorney for Dorothy Malis of Costa Mesa and Pat Howard of Hesperia filed suit last week for $10 million in actual and punitive damages because asbestos insulation was found in the apartments they bought for $62,700, with the intention of moving the structures.
The cost of removing the asbestos could be as high as $300,000, according to Robert Racine, who represents the plaintiffs. The investors had planned to move the apartments to Gardena and Long Beach.
'In Sales Agreement'
Charles Todd, an attorney who represents Schuller and his ministry, and who is also named as a defendant in the suit, said Wednesday in a prepared statement that "at the time of the sale the buyers were told that the apartments may contain asbestos, and a general reference to that effect was even included in the sales agreement . . .
"The evidence is indisputable that the buyers were advised of the potential presence of asbestos at the time of entering into the contract. The (ministry) believes and has been advised by its outside legal counsel that it is without liability and will be exonerated in the litigation."
Racine said Wednesday that Todd's statement was "completely false." But Malis, who signed that agreement without consulting an attorney, is "not a sophisticated person," he said.
Racine said he had been negotiating with Todd and the other defendant, Chester L. Tolson, over a settlement, but that the Schuller aides broke off discussions.
"People in power become arrogant," Racine said. "Doctors, lawyers, and men of God."