Geller loses big

V. STENGER, UNIV. OF HAWAII HEP (VJS@uhhepg.phys.hawaii.edu)
Tue, 25 Oct 1994 13:34:12 -0400

For Immediate Release
For Further Information, Contact: Michael Powers at 800-853-7545

Alleged "Psychic" Uri Geller loses libel suit against
Prometheus Books

Amherst, New York -- Self proclaimed "psychic" Uri Geller had
to dismiss a multi-million dollar libel suit and has to pay
over $20,000 in sanctions in an action he brought against
skeptical book publisher Prometheus Books of Amherst, New York.

In the suit, filed April of 1992 in Miami, Florida, Geller
requested four million dollars in damages for statements about
him appearing in the Prometheus Books _Physics and Psychics_,
by author Victor Stenger, Professor of Physics and Astronomy at
the University of Hawaii, and _The Transcendental Temptation_,
by Paul Kurtz, author and chairman of Prometheus Books. In a
pre-suit settlement demand, Geller's lawyers had demanded as a
"full and final" position that all references to him be deleted
from both books, that full-page apologies be published in
several metropolitan newspapers, and that he be paid one
million dollars. Prometheus's Miami attorney, Brenton Ver
Ploeg, responded that the threatened lawsuit was frivolous and,
if actually filed, would eventually cause sanctions to be
imposed against Geller.

On February 4, 1994 the court issued an Order of Dismissal
that instructed Geller to reimburse the Prometheus defendants
for costs and reasonable attorney's fees in the amount of
$49,148.92 within 30 days, as a condition imposed upon Geller's
voluntary dismissal of the action without prejudice (allowing
similar lawsuits to be pursued elsewhere). The fees and costs
represent the expense incurred by Prometheus after the date
Geller knew that the suit was barred because the statute of
limitations had expired, but proceeded nonetheless.

Geller, however, failed to pay the $49,148.92 in fees and
costs, and, as the court had warned, the voluntary dismissal
was judicially converted to one with prejudice (effectively
barring Geller from prosecuting the suit in any other
jurisdiction) and imposing a new sanctions award of $20,272.89,
the costs incurred by defendants after April 12, 1993.

On July 5 Geller noted an appeal from this decision. On
August 17, however, he dismissed his appeal, terminated the
litigation, and paid Prometheus and Stenger $20,272.89,
followed by another check for $299.53 in interest.

When informed of Geller's payment and dismissal of the
appeal, Prometheus Chairman Paul Kurtz stated, "Naturally we
are relieved; it's been a long and difficult two years, but it
also shows the importance of fighting for what you believe in.
It seems Mr. Geller's alleged psychic powers weren't working
correctly when he decided to file this suit." Ver Ploeg said
that the result "seems to suggest that Mr. Geller has little
prospect of employment as a consultant in the prediction of
legal results."

Prometheus Books is the leading publisher in the world of
scientific books critical of paranormal claims, and both Kurtz
and Stenger had questioned Geller's claim that he had special
"psychic powers."

"There had been a persistent effort to blunt scientific
criticism of psychic claims and to chill freedom of the press,"
according to Kurtz. "This is a great victory for us, but it's
still an ongoing battle. Who knows when it will end or how;
I'm not a psychic."

Geller had also sued Professor Stenger in Hawaii (where he
lost), and both Prometheus and Stenger in London, England.
Given the dismissal with prejudice in Miami, this suit is
considered null and void by Prometheus attorneys.

-30-