Houston bankruptcy and family law attorney Michael Busby Jr. has filed a rather curious lawsuit on his own behalf (and those of more than 100 people) for alleged fraud by a fortune teller. Busby claims that he gave fortune teller Melena Thorn $2,700 in a box for “cleansing” that she never returned to be part of a husband-wife reunification ritual. (The money was to be placed under the “marital bed” to bring about happier relations). Busby claims also to have paid Thorn $30 for a tarot card reading and $500 for the ritual. Many would be rather embarrassed to participate in such supernatural services, but Busby is taking Thorn to court under a claim of fraud.
In this case, Busby has a viable claim for fraud if cash was not returned, though it would be interesting to see what records exist of the transaction. Thorn says that he never gave her the money. Moreover, I am not sure why this is not a criminal case if the money was taken. Moreover, I am highly skeptical of the class action aspect since I fail to see how commonality could be maintained in such a class unless a court were to establish a chump class to fit the case.
Busby says that he has used fortune tellers to “give me an edge” in the past and wanted to use a husband-wife reunification ritual to help him in his personal life. Busby has brought claims under not just fraud but breach of contract and violation of Texas consumer law. He is seeking $1 million in damages and an injunction.
The defendants include Psychic Love Spell Center and World Psychic Solutions, both of Houston; Thorn, also known as Christine Mitchell; and Christine Nicholas, Dillon Nicholas, and Sonny Nicholas.
Thorn has site that warns “My gifts are not for the light hearted.” She does not exactly hold back in promising results:
I’ve been helping to solve impossible cases and help perform miracles through-out the world for over 28 years. Specializing in helping to reunite lovers, removal of all bad luck, bad spirits, and/or negativity in marriages, love, luck and in your home. With using ESP (Extrasensory Perception), enables me to provide my clients with all the proper answers, guidance and solutions to help all problem areas in life.
By the way, the site also features a medal as “#1 Love Spell Expert.” I am not sure of how one gets accredited for love spell but it was good enough to get Busby in the door.
Busby however is certainly under no current spells or delusions. His Complaint states that “Plaintiff will show that more than 100 people have been defrauded by this family and/or business in the last 4 years.”
We have previously discussed the prosecution of fortune tellers as well as the crackdown on sorcerers in Muslim countries. Mystics are finding themselves targeted in the United States as well in recent weeks. In New York and Florida, clairvoyants have been prosecuted for fraud and some cities and states are moving to ban soothsaying. I have been critical of these efforts as problematic under free speech and the free exercise guarantees of the Constitution. As we discussed earlier, there are many fools who are easy to part with their money. For example, well-known romance novelist Jude Deveraux paid psychic Rosa Marks about $17 million over 17 years and later testified against her in a fraud trial in Florida. She says that she was duped into believing that Marks could transfer the spirit of Deveraux’s dead 8-year-old son into another boy’s body and reunite them. Putting aside Deveraux’s willingness to use another boy for such a transfer, she is an adult who decided to pay for the supernatural service. She now says “[w]hen I look back on it now, it was outrageous. I was out of my mind.” Well, yes, yes you were, but why is that a crime because someone sold you on a fantasy? A casino can take the same amount in gambling without recourse and a church can take it on the promise that she will be rewarded in the afterlife by reuniting with her son.
The Busby case will likely come down to more mundane showings of proof that the money was handed over to the psychic and precisely what was promised. He cannot sue for any failure of reunification with his wife, though I would not expect that giving thousands of dollars to a fortune teller will improve relations. The money would constitute a straight-forward case of conversion or fraud if he can prove it. In the meantime, it is unclear how the admission of participating in such rituals will affect his practice. Most people prefer lawyers to use their skills to “given them an edge” not a fortune teller who advertises as a “severe case specialist” and “love potion expert.”
Busby’s firm bio states that he received his Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Central Oklahoma in 1996 and his J.D. from South Texas College of Law. It also stated that he “has been faithfully married for 18 years and is the proud father of two daughters, Viktoria and Hannah Busby and father of Willam Maximus “Billy Max” Busby.”
I have tried to find a copy of the complaint, but perhaps one of our Texas regulars can find it and share it with us.
Source: ABA Journal