Judge called the reliability of all witnesses into question


TESTIMONY:THE RELIABILITY of the testimony of all of the witnesses in a 2008 court case in Iowa involving Dana Rosemary Scallon and her family was questioned by the judge in his ruling.

Judge Charles Wolle ruled on a bitter dispute between Dana and members of her family over ownership of some of her religious recordings.

The judge said he was convinced “that no witness spoke only the truth. All, including those testifying by deposition, exaggerated to some extent, some more than others.”

Dana, her husband Damien Scallon, her sister Susan Stein, and Ms Stein’s US husband, Dr Ronald Stein, gave testimony to the court while Dana’s brother, John Brown, and Damien Scallon’s brother, Fr Kevin Scallon, gave evidence by deposition.

The judge said Dana and her sister both exaggerated their roles and took more credit than was the case for their contributions to the company at the heart of the dispute, Heart Beat LLC.

Both had “convenient memories to some extent”, he said, but on balance he found that Dana, who was busy in the European Parliament between 1999 and 2004, did less, and Susan Stein did more, to develop their family music enterprise through Heart Beat.

Ms Stein told the court that during the 1997 presidential election, it was decided Damien’s name be removed as a director of Heart Beat as there were allegations Dana was part of “some big religious fanatical group”.

The judge quoted Tolstoy in his judgment. The opening line of the author’s famous novel Anna Karenina, he wrote, read: “All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way”.

The judge said the members of Dana’s family had initially attempted to enhance their Christian beliefs and the Christian themes in their music by expanding Dana’s audience and sales of their recordings in the US and elsewhere.

“The evidence establishes quite plainly, however, that family rivalries, individual pride, financial difficulties, and outside activities interfered with their high-minded project.”

The family members failed to adequately document their respective ownership interests in the business, he said.

Real family suspicions and terrible enmity developed during 2005 as increasingly acrimonious communications were swapped between the Scallons and the Steins, the judge said.

He ruled that the copyright to the disputed recordings was owned equally by Dana and Heart Beat, and that Mr Scallon had a one-third interest in Heart Beat even though its company filings in the US did not record this.

He denied both parties their claims for damages and ruled that each side should pay its own costs. He also ruled that both sides should pay for the appointment of an accountant who would decide if any assets had been removed from Heart Beat to other companies controlled by the Steins, without Heart Beat getting adequate compensation.