Est of ’90s hit with lawsuit


MSNBC/January 20, 1998
By Jeannette Walls

Landmark Education -- one of the hottest self-esteem movements sweeping the nation -- is in the process of settling a potentially damaging lawsuit, says a source.

The group, a successor to the 1970s Est movement, was sued by one of its members, who claimed that a group leader at the Dallas Landmark assaulted her. According to a suit filed in September 1997, her attacker "intentionally and/or negligently sexually assaulted plaintiff." Now, says a source, the suit is being settled out of court "for a substantial sum."

Landmark is a hugely popular series of seminars, with annual revenues of about $50 million, and 42 offices in 11 countries. It was the subject of a recent case study by the Harvard Business School. When called for comment on the case, a spokeswoman said Landmark’s lawyer was unable to come to the phone. "I had his secretary send a note and he said the information you have is inaccurate," she said. "I don’t think he’s going to be available."

"In Landmark, you put an almost childlike trust into the group’s facilitator, which makes someone very vulnerable," said Rick Ross, a consultant who worked on behalf of the plaintiff. Ross said he is unable to discuss specifics of the case, but has posted various documents from the suit on his Web site, "I’m very concerned about this group. I receive disturbing phone calls about it on an almost daily basis."


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