June 2009 letter to interested parties
The following letter is a synopsis of our case and its possible repercussions. The estimated costs for this next phase according to our lawyers will be another $150,000. Naturally, this is a case that is so important to the mission of Laurelbrook that we can’t afford to not fight it. On the other hand, it is a very expensive endeavor, one that we do not have the financing for. We depend on your generosity and your belief in God’s system of True Education.
Laurelbrook has finished its testimony in court and its attorneys are now (June 2009) writing the closing arguments for the case. The Judge then has 30 days to make a decision. We are expecting this decision around the last of July 2009. Continue to keep this matter in prayer as it is most important to the mission of Laurelbrook and indeed the whole Adventist educational system.
Please take some time to pray for guidance and then give as the Holy Spirit directs. You can send your tax deductible gifts to:
Attn: Legal Defense
114 Campus Dr.
Dayton, TN 37321
Thank you so much and may the Lord bless you all.
FSB LEGAL COUNSEL A
FISHER BROYLES LLC
ATTORNEYS AT LAW
2016 BASCOMB CARMEL ROAD
WOODSTOCK, GEORGIA 30189
DEBORAH A. AUSBURN, ESQ.
DIRECT DIAL 678-494-6199
Mr. Charles Hess Laurelbrook Sanitarium and School, Inc.
114 Campus Drive
Dayton, TN 37321
Re: Chao v. Laurelbrook Sanitarium & School, Inc.
Dear Mr. Hess:
As we have discussed, dividing the case into two parts has significantly increased Laurelbrook’s trial costs. It has doubled the lawyers’ time to prepare witnesses, as well as the hard costs such as copying documents, transportation, and housing costs during the trial. We will have to spend additional time scheduling witnesses, and in some cases, serving subpoenas again.
This is an important case for religious and private schools throughout the country. The Department of Labor has taken the position that Laurelbrook’s vocational program is not true vocational training, but simply a source of free labor for the Sanitarium and school maintenance. The federal regulations are so far-reaching that, if the Department’s view were to prevail at trial, virtually any non-academic training would be prohibited. The regulations, even those ostensibly addressed to safety concerns, would so limit Laurelbrook as to effectively eviscerate the vocational program.
Indeed, all of the other schools that have faced scrutiny from the Department have eliminated or severely curtailed their vocational programs. You and I have discussed other schools, including those within the Adventist fold, that have made that decision.
We are arguing at trial that forcing a school to make that decision impermissibly infringes on religious liberty. We also are arguing that when an education governing body has accredited a school, as the State of Tennessee has done for Laurelbrook, then the Department of Labor regulations simply do not apply. Indeed, no high school vocational program could operate if It had to follow the Department’s regulations.
A victory for Laurelbrook, by contrast, would provide a model of a program that passes muster as a school rather than a workplace. Other schools could follow Laurelbrook’s lead and, armed with a court victory, be better able to defend themselves against any Department of Labor investigation. This case, then, is important not only to Laurelbrook, but to every other private religious school that wishes to provide vocational and character training for its students.
As always, please feel free to call me with any questions.
FSB LEGAL COUNSEL, A
FISHER BROYLES LLC
Deborah A. Ausburn