Ken Dandar doesn't trust anybody. Not after all the spies searched his trash. Not after the interlopers dialed his office, pretending to be somebody else. Not after he took on Scientology in one of the biggest legal clashes in the church's history.
So when we called Dandar last week, he thought we were members of the Church of Scientology and were out to get him. "How do I know you are who you say you are?" he asked. "Who are you really?" was another of his questions.
Dandar's sprawling legal battle against Scientology — which has consumed more than a decade of his life — ground forward recently, but not in Dandar's favor. The Southwest Florida attorney failed to block a "secret" hearing in state court to decide whether he'll pay $1 million for violating a 2004 settlement agreement that prohibited him from suing the church again.
His lawsuits go back to 2000 and the strange death of Lisa McPherson. A blood clot known as pulmonary embolism killed the Tampa woman while she was under Scientology's medical care, and the church was indicted for negligent homicide. But those charges were later dropped, and the McPherson clan enlisted Dandar, who filed a civil suit.
Eventually, in 2004, the McPhersons won, wrenching a settlement from the church. "He withstood the onslaught of the persistent attacks of Scientology and its agents," McPherson's aunt, Dell Liebreich, wrote of Dandar at the time.
Dandar then took on the church again, in 2007, representing the parents of a Virginia man named Kyle Brennan, whose parents said the church had been involved somehow in the death of their son. Kyle was found shot in the head.
Citing the McPherson settlement, a judge removed Dandar as the family's lawyer. The case was later thrown out.
Now Dandar has filed a civil rights suit against the church in state court to challenge his removal from the Brennan case. But he's not confident he'll win: "Someone from Scientology has gotten to the judges."