Thursday, July 04, 2013

9th Circuit: U.S. Enforcement of Foreign Award Against Church Is Constitutional

In Ohno v. Yasuma, (9th Cir., July 2, 2013), the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a California federal district court's enforcement under the Uniform Foreign-Country Money Judgments Recognition Act of a Japanese damage award against a church. The church unsuccessfully claimed that enforcing the award violated the 1st Amendment and was repugnant to public policy. Plaintiff Naoko Ohno was awarded $834,000 in a tort judgment in Japan in a suit in which she alleged that the Saints of Glory Church and its California-based pastor, under whose sway she fell, fraudulently induced her to transfer large sums to the Church at a time that she was depressed and physically ill. The 9th Circuit held that use of U.S. courts to enforce the judgment does not turn the Japanese judgment into state action subject to constraints of the U.S. Constitution, nor is the underlying cause of action repugnant to California public policy.