Landmark Education Corp. Sues Elle Magazine for Libel
SAN FRANCISCO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Aug. 31, 1998--Landmark Education Corp.,
Based in San Francisco with offices in 35 cities in the United States, filed a
lawsuit today in New York State Supreme Court in Manhattan, according to Art
Schreiber, General Counsel for Landmark.
The complaint states that Elle Magazine, and writer Rosemary Mahoney,
damaged the business reputation of Landmark Education and defamed the
reputation of Landmark Course Leader Beth Handel. Landmark is seeking
$10,000,000 in actual and punitive damages.
According to Schreiber, Mahoney took The Landmark Forum, Landmark's
primary educational program, and wrote an article for the September issue of
Elle that asserted that The Landmark Forum was an elaborate pyramid scheme. The
article also clearly implied that Landmark participants are hypnotized into
believing that the results they have experienced are valid.
In its complaint, Landmark pointed out that neither Elle nor the writer
ever contacted Landmark to check the accuracy of the proposed statements before
going to print. The complaint goes on to point out that if they had, Landmark
would have provided substantial documentation that would have made it
abundantly clear that Landmark's business is not even remotely related to any
kind of pyramid marketing scheme.
According to Schreiber, people pay tuition to participate in The Landmark
Forum as they would for any adult education program, and that tuition is used
by Landmark solely in the conduct of its business operations. No one is paid a
commission or other form of payment, in cash or in kind, as a result of another
person enrolling in The Landmark Forum.
Harvard Business School and the University of Southern California School
of Business did extensive research on Landmark Education and extensively
documented Landmark's business practices. Both present documentation in their
case studies that refute Elle and Mahoney's comments.
Schreiber said that had Mahoney contacted Landmark she would have also
been given documentation from experts including Dr. Ed Lowell, a specialist in
understanding brainwashing, and Dr. Raymond Fowler, former CEO of the American
Psychological Association, that would have clearly shown that her allegations
regarding hypnosis were absurd.
Lowell, a medical doctor specializing in psychiatry and licensed to
practice medicine since 1955 in New Jersey, New York and California stated in a
November 1996 letter: "I am certified by the American Board of Psychiatry and
Neurology since 1962 and have spent 39 years practicing general psychiatry and
psychotherapy... My psychiatric training included a residency in a U.S. Army
Hospital in 1955 during which time, in order to deal with American military men
who were mentally manipulated by their Chinese captors, I was trained
specifically about the technology and techniques of 'brainwashing,' 'mind
control,' and 'thought reform.' "I am familiar with The Landmark Forum and
have personally experienced and examined closely the work and programs of
Landmark... I have seen nothing at all that would lead me to the conclusion
that The Landmark Forum or any other Landmark program or Landmark itself does
or even attempts to engage in any sort of brainwashing, thought reform,
hypnosis or thought modification whatsoever."
In a February 1995 letter, Fowler made the following comments about The
Landmark Forum: "There is no coercion, no social isolation, no peer pressure
toward conformity and no required modification of behavior... ."
In reference to Landmark's decision to sue Elle, Schreiber stated:
"Although the Elle article made it clear that Landmark and its programs are not
cult-like, the lack of research and the thoroughly evident intent of the writer
to denigrate the reputation of Landmark and our employee Beth Handel with
irresponsible statements and shoddy research require a legal response."
Spaulding & Associates
Sharon Spaulding, 801/576-0898
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