Alcor News

Alcor News

News Blog of the Alcor Life Extension Foundation

Lawsuits against Larry Johnson End; Johnson Issues Statement

Alcor’s lawsuits against Larry Johnson have been ended by his bankruptcy and various concessions.  In 2009 Alcor sued authors Larry Johnson, Scott Baldyga, and publisher Vanguard Press in New York for their book Frozen, which purported to be about Alcor.  The lawsuit was filed to obtain damages for the false and defamatory content of the book, to enforce prior court orders and agreements which publication of the book directly violated, and to protect the privacy of Alcor members.  Bankruptcy papers filed by Johnson end Alcor’s ability to collect damages related to this lawsuit from Mr. Johnson, unless there is a subsequent violation of terms by Mr. Johnson.  All court orders remain in force to prevent future violations.

In connection with the end of litigation, Larry Johnson has issued this public statement:

“When the book Frozen was written, I believed my conclusions to be correct.  However information unknown to me and a more complete understanding of the facts furnished by ALCOR contradict part of my account and some of my conclusions.  In light of this new information from ALCOR, some parts of the book are questioned as to veracity.

“For example my account of the Ted Williams cryopreservation, which was not based upon my first-hand observation as noted in my book, is contradicted by information furnished by ALCOR.  I am not now certain that Ted Williams’ body was treated disrespectfully, or that any procedures were performed without authorization or conducted poorly.

“To the extent my recollections and conclusions were erroneous, and those recollections and errors caused harm I apologize.”

False allegations of mistreatment of member remains were the centerpiece of sensational publicity sought by Mr. Johnson in 2003, and subsequently during his promotion of the book Frozen in October 2009.  Yet they were just a few of the many falsehoods contained in the book Frozen and the surrounding publicity.  The lawsuit against the book’s coauthor, Scott Baldyga, and publisher, Vanguard Press, continues in New York.  Alcor is seeking money damages against Mr. Baldyga and Vanguard Press for aiding and abetting violation of court orders, ignoring valid court injunctions, and otherwise assisting in the distribution of false information about Alcor.

Alcor CEO, Max More, stated, “We are very pleased that Mr. Johnson has publicly retracted his allegations about Alcor.  Alcor feels vindicated from the falsehoods perpetrated by Mr. Johnson.  Alcor is a professional cryopreservation facility dedicated to the well-being and privacy of its members.”

Larry Johnson Held in Contempt of Court and Forced to Post Bail in Nevada to Avoid Jail; Lawsuit Continues in New York

Last year, Larry Johnson and self-proclaimed screenwriter, Scott Baldyga, wrote and started selling for profit the book Frozen, which purported to be about Alcor. The book was published by Vanguard Press. After successfully filing suit against Johnson in 2003 for violating the privacy of Alcor members, Alcor was forced to sue Johnson again in 2009, as well as Baldyga and Vanguard, for publication of Frozen. The lawsuit was filed to obtain damages for the false and defamatory content of the book, to enforce prior court orders and agreements which publication of the book directly violated, and to protect the privacy of Alcor members.

After being found in contempt of court for failing to answer for his conduct, an arrest warrant for Larry Johnson was issued in Arizona earlier this year. This was followed by an arrest warrant in his new home state of Nevada. After posting bond for the Nevada warrant to avoid jail, Johnson finally sat for deposition on October 20, 2010. During deposition, Larry Johnson invoked the Fifth Amendment more than 300 times to avoid incriminating himself. Questions which he declined to answer included:

Q. Is it true that the book Frozen contains numerous lies and inaccuracies about Alcor?

A. I respectfully decline to answer and wish to assert my Fifth Amendment rights.

Q. Is it true that you knowingly and intentionally defamed Alcor and all of its members in the book Frozen that you authored?

A. I respectfully decline to answer and wish to assert my Fifth Amendment rights.

Q. Is it true that you have consistently made up stories concerning alleged death threats that were, in fact, never made to you?

A. I respectfully decline to answer and wish to assert my Fifth Amendment rights.

When asked if Mr. Johnson lied to various governmental agencies about his prior reports, he declined to answer based on the apparent fear of being prosecuted for criminal conduct. For instance:

Q. Is it true that you have lied to governmental agencies concerning Alcor matters?

A. I respectfully decline to answer and wish to assert my Fifth Amendment rights.

Q. Is it true that you lied to the office of OSHA concerning Alcor?

A. I respectfully decline to answer and wish to assert my Fifth Amendment rights.

When asked if any of the affidavits and statements made by Mr. Johnson to the courts of Arizona, Nevada or New York were true or false, Mr. Johnson once again invoked the Fifth Amendment against self-incrimination:

Q. Is it true that you knowingly lied to an Arizona judge concerning this proceeding?

A. I respectfully decline to answer and wish to assert my Fifth Amendment rights.

Q. Is it true that you knowingly lied to a Nevada judge concerning the proceedings before Nevada?

A. I respectfully decline to answer and wish to assert my Fifth Amendment rights.

Q. Is it true that you knowingly lied to a New York judge concerning matters pending in New York?

A. I respectfully decline to answer and wish to assert my Fifth Amendment rights.

Mr. Johnson was also asked whether he lied to various police departments about Alcor. When confronted with the implications of such conduct, Mr. Johnson once again invoked the Fifth Amendment to such questions to avoid self-incrimination:

Q. Is it true that you lied to the Scottsdale Police Department Police Department concerning Alcor?

A. I respectfully decline to answer and wish to assert my Fifth Amendment rights.

Q. Is it true that you lied to the Las Vegas Police Department concerning Alcor?

A. I respectfully decline to answer and wish to assert my Fifth Amendment rights.

Q. Is it true that you lied to the Glendale Police Department concerning Alcor?

A. I respectfully decline to answer and wish to assert my Fifth Amendment rights.

The failure of Mr. Johnson to meaningfully cooperate with orders of the court and his refusal to answer questions is the subject of a hearing to take place on November 9, 2010 in Nevada.

In June of this year, the court in Nevada domesticated the July 2009 Arizona Judgment requiring Larry Johnson and his wife to return all materials relating to Alcor, and to cease disparaging or otherwise speaking about Alcor. Following imposition of bank account levies and garnishment, Mr. Johnson paid the balance of the $6,543 judgment plus interest.

On October 26, 2010, and following the depositions of Mr. Johnson and his wife, the presiding judge in Nevada domesticated the May 2010 Arizona Contempt Judgment against Larry Johnson and his wife. The contempt judgment not only reinforces the underlying judgment for the return of Alcor-related materials, but it deems Mr. Johnson and his wife in further contempt of court. Mr. Johnson is now obligated to pay Alcor additional sanctions of more than $40,000, plus $100 for each and every day he continues his contemptuous conduct. These sanctions will be garnished from his income until they are paid in full. Alcor intends to seek further sanctions against Mr. Johnson for his continued non-compliance, including forfeiture of the $10,000 bond previously posted by Mr. Johnson to avoid being placed in jail.

On October 29, 2010, the New York court denied a motion to dismiss filed by Mr. Johnson. The court would only dismiss for now the “conversion” claim against Mr. Johnson for technical reasons, leaving claims for defamation and other causes of action intact. The New York court is going to allow the Arizona and Nevada courts to continue the process of finding Mr. Johnson in contempt of court. Alcor will also be asking for the return of documents from any third-parties located in New York based upon the domesticated Arizona judgment. Claims for defamation and other causes of action, including aiding and abetting a breach of fiduciary duty, against Vanguard Press and Scott Baldyga will also continue forward in New York.

Recently, Alcor was successful in forcing Vanguard Press to take down its promotional website of the book Frozen. Alcor is hopeful the courts will take all action necessary to continue enforcement of its orders and judgments against Mr. Johnson.

“For more information about this case, see Alcor’s Response to Larry Johnson.”

Larry Johnson Found in Contempt of Court; Warrant Issued for His Arrest

On May 28, 2010, the Superior Court of the State of Arizona found former Alcor paramedic Larry Johnson in contempt of court and issued a warrant for his arrest. The associated judgment also ordered Johnson to pay Alcor $34,107.57 in addition to amounts owing from a July 2009 judgment against him and his wife. These new sanctions were the result of Johnson violating the July 2009 Arizona Judgment to stop disparaging Alcor, stop distribution of private patient records taken from Alcor, return all materials pertaining to Alcor, and otherwise stop communicating with third parties about Alcor. The July 2009 judgment arose out of various violations of a 2004 settlement agreement with Alcor in which Johnson agreed to make no further public statements about Alcor after being sued for distributing and misrepresenting confidential materials taken from Alcor in 2003. His defamatory and fictionalized book Frozen was a violation of the prior settlement agreement and a violation of the July 2009 judgment entered against Mr. Johnson and his wife. After failing to appear in the Superior Court of Arizona to answer for his transgressions, the Superior Court issued a judgment for contempt, an award of sanctions in favor of Alcor and a bench warrant for the arrest of Mr. Johnson in whatever state he can be found.

Alcor retained counsel in Las Vegas, Nevada to enforce the Arizona judgment against Mr. Johnson, and a hearing is currently scheduled for June 22, 2010 to ask that the Nevada court remand Mr. Johnson into custody and have him extradited to Arizona.

Continue reading “Response to Larry Johnson Media Allegations

Appeal of Orville Richardson Case to be heard by Iowa Court of Appeals

Orville Richardson was an Alcor member who after his death in Burlington, Iowa, February, 2009, was buried by his next of kin without Alcor’s knowledge. On April 6, 2010, the Iowa Court of Appeals will hear an appeal by Alcor as to why Alcor should be allowed to recover and cryopreserve whatever remains of the brain of Mr. Richardson. Alcor is pursuing this appeal at substantial expense and risk of public misunderstanding because it believes that it has an obligation to fulfill wishes of its members, and defend the primacy of the individual right to choose cryonics.

Orville Richardson joined Alcor in 2004, directing that his remains be cryopreserved for purposes of cryonics research and potential revival in the future. He paid $20,000 for an Alcor Life Membership instead of paying annual membership dues. He also prepaid an additional $50,000 for his neuropreservation (preservation of the brain within the head) cryonics arrangement. This amount was held by Alcor in a segregated account until time of need, with earned interest regularly paid back to Mr. Richardson. Contrary to some media reports, Alcor is not aware of Mr. Richardson leaving any money to Alcor in a will.

Mr. Richardson died on Febrary 19, 2009, at the age of 81. He suffered from dementia the year before his death. He was survived by his brother and sister, his wife having died 22 years earlier. They had no children. On April 21, 2009, his brother wrote Alcor asking that the $50,000 prepaid by Orville Richardson for his cryonics arrangements be refunded to his estate because he “obviously did not utilize this service.” Alcor didn’t know that Mr. Richardson was seriously ill, and only learned of his death upon receipt of this letter. Alcor learned that Mr. Richardson had been embalmed and buried.

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New York Lawsuit Against Larry Johnson Expands to Include Defamation; New York Court Grants Request to Fully Domesticate Arizona Judgment Against Larry Johnson

The New York Supreme Court has granted a motion by Alcor to amend its lawsuit against Defendants, Larry Johnson, co-author, Scott Baldyga, and publisher Vanguard Press. The lawsuit now includes dozens of defamation claims, including numerous claims related to false allegations of mistreatment of Ted Williams and other claims for defamation per se. There is an even larger volume of false and misleading statements in the book “Frozen” than encompassed by these claims, but Alcor believes that these claims are sufficient for proving in court that the book by Johnson and Baldyga was written and published maliciously with false information intended to harm Alcor. The lawsuit additionally includes causes of action for Breach of Agreements and Judgment, Breach of Fiduciary Duty, Conversion (theft of company property), and Aiding and Abetting Breach of Court-Entered Judgments against Johnson.

The New York Supreme Court also approved a motion to domesticate in New York the Arizona judgment against Larry Johnson that has been in place since July 7, 2009. This domesticated judgment requires Johnson to return all materials he took from Alcor, including materials distributed to third parties, and prohibits him from making any statements about Alcor. Since this Judgment is now enforceable in New York, it will support the next request for the New York publisher to cease and desist from continued publication of the subject book and to return any Alcor materials Johnson provided to his publisher.

It should provide some reassurance to Alcor members and their families to know that courts are supporting return of records to Alcor, and that any disclosures of Alcor records by Johnson were completely inappropriate. Neither Johnson, Baldyga or Vanguard even attempted to argue “free speech” in opposition of the Motion to Domesticate the Arizona judgment.

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Alcor and Robbins Family Reach Amicable Settlement

SCOTTSDALE, ARIZONA – March 3, 2010
Mary Robbins was a member of Alcor Life Extension Foundation since 2006. Ms. Robbins left her remains to Alcor in a written directive pursuant to the Colorado Disposition of Last Remains Act. A dispute arose between the Robbins family and Alcor over whether or not Ms. Robbins cancelled her written wishes concerning her remains two days before her legal death in Colorado Springs on February 9, 2010.

On March 1, 2010, a Colorado Probate Court ruled that Ms. Robbins did not revoke her written wishes concerning her remains by signing a “change of beneficiary” document in connection with an insurance annuity. The court further ordered that Alcor shall have custody of the remains of Ms. Robbins.

Today, Alcor and the Robbins family reached an amicable settlement in which Alcor will be allowed to transport immediately the frozen remains of Ms. Robbins to Arizona to complete the process of cryopreservation. In exchange, Alcor agreed to release all potential claims to an insurance annuity in which Alcor had been the previously named beneficiary.

Jennifer Chapman, Executive Director of Alcor stated: “We are glad we were able to fulfill the wishes of our long-standing member.”

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Colorado Springs Court Upholds Desire of Alcor Member to be Cryopreserved

SCOTTSDALE, ARIZONA – March 1, 2010
Mary Robbins was a member of Alcor Life Extension Foundation since 2006. She signed numerous documents expressing her desire to have her remains cryopreserved by Alcor after legal death. Ms. Robbins never executed a document which revoked her wishes concerning the donation of her remains to Alcor for cryopreservation. The Colorado Springs Probate Court decided today that a “change in beneficiary form” related to an insurance annuity was not sufficient to revoke the long-standing desire of Ms. Robbins for cryopreservation. The court upheld the desire of Ms. Robbins to be cryopreserved.

The change in beneficiary form was placed in front of Ms. Robbins two days before her death. Her mental and physical well-being are questionable at the time she executed the document. For this and other reasons, Alcor challenged the claim by her family that she had revoked her cryonics arrangements based on this document.

Colorado counsel for Alcor, Eric Bentley, said, “We are very pleased that the written desires of Ms. Robbins will be fulfilled. This case has always been about the written intentions of Ms. Robbins.”

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February 22, 2010 Press Release

Alcor Life Extension Foundation Attempts To Fulfill Wishes of Colorado Springs Woman SCOTTSDALE, ARIZONA
On February 9, 2010, Mary Robbins was pronounced legally dead. Ms. Robbins was a long-term member of Alcor Life Extension Foundation. Alcor is a science-based state-of-the-art research facility in Scottsdale, Arizona. Alcor preserves bodies at ultra-cold temperatures to achieve biostasis at a temperature at which all cell deterioration stops.

Prior to death, Ms. Robbins made a valid, written donation of her body to Alcor pursuant to the Colorado Disposition of Last Remains Act and Uniform Anatomical Gift Act. Ms. Robbins wanted to be cryopreserved, and she made her long-standing intentions known for years. Additionally, she made financial arrangements to pay for cryopreservation using a $50,000 annuity with Alcor as the beneficiary.

Ms. Robbins’s family is now claiming that her long-standing request to be cryopreserved was changed shortly before she died. However, Alcor has yet to receive any written documentation changing Ms. Robbins’s wish to be cryopreserved.

Eric Bentley, the Colorado attorney for Alcor stated, “Alcor simply wants to fulfill the documented wishes of Ms. Robbins to be cryopreserved. Ms. Robbins was competent when she made arrangements to be cryopreserved, she expressed that intention in writing, and Alcor wants to carry out her wishes.”

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Tim Reeves Pleads Guilty

Former Alcor bookkeeper Tim Reeves, in a plea agreement, has pled guilty to 1 count of Attempted Fraudulent Schemes and Artifices. As part of the deal, he will be incarcerated in the Maricopa County Jail for no less than 8 months, and following that will be on probation for a total of 3.5 years. We will be applying for restitution in this case. Sentencing will be on March 31, 2006, at 1:30 pm before Judge Richard Gama at the Maricopa County Superior Court, Central Building.