Gentle Wind Project v. Garvey

NOTE: The information and commentary contained in this database entry are based on court filings and other informational sources that may contain unproven allegations made by the parties. The truthfulness and accuracy of such information is likely to be in dispute. Information contained in this entry is current as of the last event mentioned in the "Description" section below; additional proceedings might have taken place in this matter since this event.

Summary

Threat Type: 

Lawsuit

Date: 

05/18/2004

Status: 

Concluded

Location: 

Maine

Disposition: 

Dismissed (total)
Settled (total)

Verdict or Settlement Amount: 

N/A
The Gentle Wind Project ("GWP") was a "spiritual-healing" group that produced and distributed what it characterized as "healing instruments" based on designs communicated from "the spirit world." Husband and wife, James Bergin and Judy Garvey, left the group and started a web... read full description
Parties

Party Issuing Legal Threat: 

Gentle Wind Project; John "Tubby" Miller; Mary Miller; Shelbourne Miller; Carol Miller; Joan Carreiro; Pam Ranheim

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

Judy Garvey; James Bergin; Rick Ross; Ian Mander; Steven Gamble; Steve Hassan; Ivan Fraser

Type of Party: 

Individual
Organization

Type of Party: 

Individual

Location of Party: 

  • Maine

Location of Party: 

  • International
  • Maine
  • New Zealand
  • United Kingdom

Legal Counsel: 

Jerrol Crouter; Brian Willing, Douglas Brooks, William Leete
Description

The Gentle Wind Project ("GWP") was a "spiritual-healing" group that produced and distributed what it characterized as "healing instruments" based on designs communicated from "the spirit world." Husband and wife, James Bergin and Judy Garvey, left the group and started a web site, "Wind of Changes," to help others make informed decisions about GWP. On their site, Bergin and Garvey recounted their experiences with GWP and described what they characterize as the group's "bizarre" belief systems and practices.

Other defendants published links to the "Winds of Change" website on their websites and exchanged information and articles with Bergin and Garvey that were critical of GWP.

GWP threatened the couple with legal action and then, in May 2004, the group and a number of its leaders filed suit against them and the other defendants in the United States District Court for the District of Maine. In January 2006, the federal court granted summary judgment for Bergin and Garvey on the plaintiffs' RICO claims and dismissed the state-law defamation claims for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction.

The GWP plaintiffs re-filed the defamation suit against Bergin and Garvey in state court in Maine. Before trial, in November 2006, the GWP plaintiffs asked for a settlement on Bergin and Garvey's terms. In the settlement agreement, the GWP plaintiffs dismissed the current suit and permanently abandoned any ability to sue Bergin and Garvey for anything the couple has written, including describing GWP as a cult, stating that the GWP "healing instruments" are "snake oil," or reporting the existence of group sexual activities, known to inner-circle members as "energy work." Under the terms of the agreement, Bergin and Garvey are expressly allowed to keep their Wind of Changes site open without any interference from GWP. Bergin and Garvey also received "an undisclosed amount" from the receiver of the GWP estate as compensation.

The federal court dismissed the action against Mr. Ross in January 2005. It also dismissed the claims against Ian Mander (from New Zealand) and refused to enter a default judgment against him. Mr. Mander was added to the settlement agreement between the GWP plaintiffs and Bergin and Garvey. Mr. Gamble and Mr. Fraser settled with the plaintiffs without payment and maintained their postings about GWP. Mr. Hassan settled with the GWP plaintiffs and removed all links to information about GWP in return for GWP removing statements made about him on its site.

Details
Court Information & Documents

Jurisdiction: 

  • Maine

Source of Law: 

  • United States
  • Maine

Court Name: 

United States District Court for the District of Maine; Superior Court, York County, Maine

Case Number: 

2:04CV00103 (Federal); No. CV-06-11 (State)

Relevant Documents: