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Ninth Circuit enforces Japanese judgment against church under California Uniform-Foreign-Country Money Judgments Recognition Act.

Ohno v. Yasuma, 723 F.3d 984 (2013).

The California Uniform Foreign-Country Money Judgments Recognition Act (the Uniform Act) allows a California court to recognize and enforce a foreign judgment. (1) The Uniform Act provides courts with nine discretionary grounds for non-recognition of foreign judgments. (2) In Ohno v. Yasuma, (3) the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit addressed whether the enforcement of an international judgment against a church constituted state action in violation of the Free Exercise Clause of the U.S. Constitution and the California Constitution. (4) The court also addressed whether enforcement of the judgment is repugnant to public policy and therefore not covered by the Uniform Act. (5) The court held that enforcement of an international award did not constitute state action, triggering constitutional analysis, and that enforcement of the award is not against public policy. (6)

Ohno, a citizen of Japan, became a member of the Saints of Glory Church in that country in 1994. (7) She predominately practiced at the Tokyo branch, where worshipers listened to sermons given in California by the principal pastor, Yasuma. (8) Saints of Glory members were required to contribute one-tenth of their incomes to demonstrate obedience. (9) After Ohno lost her job, Yasuma convinced her to live in a Church-affiliated residence in Tokyo with other church members. (10) During that time, Ohno discontinued use of her prescribed anti-depressants and tranquilizers because Yasuma discouraged the use of medications. (11) During this time, damage to Ohno's nervous system caused her depression and general ataxia to worsen; as a result, Ohno delved deeper into the Church and its ideology. (12)

Beginning in 2001, Yasuma encouraged Ohno to make large money transfers to both himself and another Church minister. (13) In January of 2002, Yasuma began spending several hours talking with Ohno and pressuring her to tithe more of her income. (14) Within two months of these conversations, Ohno had transferred the majority of her assets totaling JPY68,678,424 to the Church. (15) Approximately one year after these transfers, the Church ordered Ohno to leave claiming she was not obedient to Jesus Christ. (16) A few years after Ohno left the Church, she resumed taking her medications and came to the realization that the Church had taken advantage of her illness and her fear of not obeying Jesus Christ. (17)

Ohno filed a complaint in Japan in 2007 against Yasuma and two other Church members under tort and unjust enrichment claims. (18) The focus of her claims was on the donation of approximately USD500,000 to Saints of Glory Church under the stress generated by Yasuma's threatening conversations with Ohno. (19) After two years of litigation in Japan, the Tokyo District Court held that Yasuma and Saints of Glory had illegally induced Ohno to make substantial payments during a time when she was not psychologically stable. (20) The Tokyo District Court awarded Ohno USD843,235.66, which included the large transfers made to Saints of Glory in 2002 as well as damages for pain and suffering. (21) Furthermore, Ohno brought an international diversity action in the United States District Court for the Central District of California for the enforcement of the Japanese judgment against Yasuma and Saints of Glory under the Uniform Act. (22) The district court enforced the judgment against Yasuma and Saints of Glory under the Uniform Act and held that the Japanese Judgment was not repugnant to public policy or the Free Exercise Clause. (23)

Constitutional rights are protected from government intrusion, which requires the existence of a state action when assessing whether a state has deprived a citizen of a federal right. (24) In Lugar v. Edmondson Oil Co., (25) the Supreme Court set out a two-prong test to determine whether judicial action satisfies the state action requirement triggering constitutional scrutiny. (26) The first prong focuses on whether the alleged constitutional deprivation resulted from "the exercise of some right or privilege created by the state or by a rule of conduct imposed by the state or by a person for whom the State is responsible." (27) The second prong asks whether the party charged with the alleged deprivation can be classified as a state actor. (28)

In limited situations, courts have recognized judgments against religious organizations as establishing state action and triggering constitutional scrutiny. (29) In Paul v. Watchtower Bible Tract Soc., (30) the Ninth Circuit held that the use of Washington tort law establishing damages against a religious organization for actions taken in furtherance of their religious beliefs constituted state action. (31) In that case, the plaintiff alleged that members of the Jehovah's Witness faith were intentionally shunning her after she decided to leave the religious organization. (32) The court found that awarding damages against the Jehovah's Witnesses for engaging in the religious practice of their faith amounts to condemning shunning and defining it as an unlawful act. (33) The court reasoned that the Washington tort law allowing the plaintiff's recovery would restrict the religious organization's freedom to practice its faith and thus constitutes state action. (34) Paul further clarified that a state's tort law constitutes state action not because of judicial involvement but rather because--as stated in the case-in-chief--the tort law relies on the power of state government to regulate conduct." (35)

The Uniform Act is derived from the revised Uniform Foreign-Country Money Judgments Recognition Act of 2005. (36) Many states have statutes similar to the Uniform Act, which include a repugnancy to public policy exception. (37) The Uniform Act allows courts to deny recognition of foreign money judgments if either "[t]he judgment or the cause of action or claim for relief on which the judgment is based is repugnant to the public policy of California or of the United States." (38) The standard for repugnance was articulated in Crockford's Club Ltd. v. Si-Ahmed, (39) where a California Court of Appeal held that the public policy exception in the Uniform Act [section] 1716 (c)(3) only applies when the judgment or the law that grants the judgment is so hostile and in opposition to California, or federal, public policy interests as to prevent the extension of comity. (40) In an analogous case, the Court of Appeals of Maryland, in Telnikoff v. Matusevitch, (41) refused to enforce an English libel judgment on the grounds of repugnance to public policy embodied by the First Amendment. (42) The court found that English defamation law was completely different from Maryland defamation law and that English defamation law is contrary to freedom of the press as embodied by Maryland's Constitution as well as the United States Constitution. (43)

In Ohno v. Yasuma, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit held that the district court's enforcement of a Japanese judgment did not constitute state action and that the judgment was not repugnant to the Uniform Act. (44) The court first determined, using the first prong set out in Lugar, whether enforcement of the foreign judgment constituted state action. (45) The court held that the claimed constitutional deprivation could not be traced to a right, privilege or rule of conduct imposed by California or U.S. government entity. (46) The court reasoned that because Japanese tort law was the substantive law that applied to this case allowing the recovery, and because Yasuma was challenging the constitutionality of the Japanese tort judgment, not the Uniform Act, there was no link between a domestic government entity and the alleged deprivation, therefore there was no state action to be found under the first element of Lugar. (47) The court then proceeded with the second prong of the Lugar analysis: attempting to link Ohno to a state actor. (48) The court held that Ohno was not a state actor because although the court performed a public service, Ohno was the individual who personally benefitted from the lawsuit, not the court. (49)

The court then determined whether enforcement of the Japanese judgment fell under the public policy exception of the Uniform Act, making it unenforceable. (50) The court found that California law recognizes tort claims similar to those under Japanese law, including undue influence, fraud, negligent or intentional infliction of emotional distress, and unjust enrichment claims. (51) Although Japanese tort law applies more broadly, the court observed that the only significant difference between Japanese and California tort law is that California tort law does not recognize negligent infliction of emotional distress claims as a result of religious conduct, but California does recognize negligent infliction of economic injury by a religious entity. (52) The court reasoned that because Japanese and California tort laws are similar, and the district court did not evaluate religious beliefs to supply a judgment, enforcement of the judgment was not repugnant to public policy. (53) The court held that enforcement of the Japanese judgment does not constitute state action and the judgment is not repugnant to public policy. (54)

In reviewing whether judicial enforcement of the foreign judgment constituted state action, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit accurately applied the facts of the case to the two prong test established in Lugar and held that no state action existed. (55) The court correctly found that although California law does provide Ohno an avenue for enforcing the Japanese judgment, it does not initially grant the judgment under dispute, thus not satisfying the first prong of the Lugar analysis. (56) The analysis under Lugar became clearer and easier for the court to apply because Yasuma was arguing the constitutionality of the Japanese law that allowed for recovery rather than questioning the constitutionality of the Uniform Act. (57) As the judgment failed the first Lugar prong, it was unnecessary for the court to analyze whether Ohno fell under the definition of state actor. (58)

Courts have consistently held that enforcement of a judgment does not necessarily constitute state action. (59) The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit did not address whether the judgment violated the Free Exercise Clause because it rightfully found that there was no state action triggering constitutional scrutiny. (60) In Ohno, the court accurately distinguished the holding in Paul, which stated that the imposition of damages under Washington tort law on Jehovah's Witness for conducting the religious practice of shunning is state action subject to constitutional scrutiny. (61) This court appropriately found that the underlying law applied to grant the judgment was Japanese tort law, not California law; the Uniform Act enforced the award but wasn't the substantive law that granted the judgment in the first place. (62)

In finding that Japanese tort law is similar to California tort law, the court correctly held that enforcement of the Japanese judgment by the district court was not repugnant to public policy. (63) The court correctly distinguished the holding in Telnikoff, which stated that enforcement of an English defamation judgment was repugnant to public policy, from this case. (64) This court differentiated Telnikoff by highlighting the vast disparities between Maryland's defamation laws and English defamation laws. (65) The court decided that focusing on the legislative intent regarding the underlying cause of action granting the foreign judgment, rather than focusing purely on the differences between foreign and domestic law, was a better way to address the repugnancy standard. (66)

In Ohno v. Yasuma, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit addressed whether enforcement of a foreign judgment constituted state action triggering constitutional scrutiny, and whether the enforcement of the foreign judgment under the Uniform Act was repugnant to public policy. (67) In its holding, the court remained consistent with existing case law and correctly held that enforcing the Japanese judgment in California did not constitute a state action. (68) The court also further clarified the public policy exception in the Uniform Act, and reinforced the difficulty of meeting the repugnancy standard. Rather than focusing on slight nuances, the court set a precedent by stressing the importance of focusing on the underlying cause of action that granted the foreign judgment and on any explicit contrast between the domestic law and its foreign counterpart.

(1.) See Cal. Civ. Proc. [section] 1713-1724 (2008) (codifying California's recognition and enforcement of foreign money judgments). Cal. Civ. Proc. [section] 1715 states "[t]his chapter applies to a foreign country judgment to the extent the judgment both: (1) Grants or denies recovery of a sum of money, and (2) under the law in the foreign country where rendered, is final, conclusive and enforceable.... "Id.; see also Yahoo! Inc. v. La Ligue Contre le Racisme et L'Antisemitisme, 433 F.3d 1199, 1212 (9th Cir. 2001) (discussing governing law in international diversity cases). The law that governs enforceability of judgments that made by courts in other countries is the law of the state in which the enforcement is sought. See Yahoo! Inc., 433 F.3d at 1212; In Re Marriage of Lyustiger, 177 Cal. App. 4th 1367 (2009) (defining foreign judgment as any judgment of foreign state granting or denying recovery of money); see also Gregory H. Schill, Ending Judgment Arbitrage: Jurisdictional Competition and the Enforcement of the Foreign Money Judgments in the United States, 54 Harv. Int'l L.J. 459, 462 (2013) (noting enforcement of foreign money judgments in the United States).

(2.) See Cal. Civ. Proc. [section] 1716(c) (2008) (describing when courts can refuse to recognize foreign judgments). Courts are not obligated to recognize and enforce a foreign money judgment if any of the following grounds exist:

   (1) lack of notice to the defendant; (2) fraud; (3) repugnancy of
   the foreign judgment or cause of action to public policy; (4)
   conflict with another final and conclusive judgment; (5)
   contrariness to an agreement between the parties regarding the
   resolution of disputes; (6) inconvenience of the foreign forum; (7)
   doubts about the integrity of the rendering court; (8)
   incompatibility of the judgment with the requirements of due
   process of law; (9) a recovery under defamation law that provides
   less protection for freedom of speech and the press then is provide
   under the U.S. and California Constitutions.


(3.) 723 F.3d 984 (9th Cir. 2013).

(4.) See id. at 986 (explaining constitutional and statutory issues before court); see also U.S. CONST, amend. I (explaining Free Exercise Clause establishing freedom of religion and protecting individuals from state intrusion and discrimination). The First Amendment states that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the exercise thereof...." U.S. Const, amend I. The corresponding protections of religious freedom in the California Constitution states that "[f]ree exercise and enjoyment of religion without discrimination or preference are guaranteed.... The Legislature shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion." Cal. Const, art. I, [section] 4 (discussing freedom of religion).

(5.) Ohno, 723 F.3d at 990 (considering issues on appeal). Yasuma argued that the district court erred in enforcing the Japanese judgment and the district court's decision should be reversed because "(1) the judgment burdened free exercise of religion in violation of the Religion Clauses; and (2) the judgment was not entitled to recognition or enforcement under the Uniform Act, because it was 'repugnant to the public policy' embodied in the Religion Clauses." Id.

(6.) Id. at 987 (detailing court's holding).

(7.) Id. at 987-88 (discussing how Ohno began practicing with Saints of Glory in London).

(8.) See Ohno, 723 F.3d at 988 (describing how sermons taught obedience to Jesus Christ and Yasuma). Ohno followed the teachings and sermons of Yasuma so fervently that when her father was ill she did not visit him or attend his funeral after he passed away because Yasuma did not approve of Ohno returning home. Id. In addition, Yasuma instructed Ohno to purchase Saints of Glory videos and books and to continually study them and learn from them. Id.

(9.) Id. at 988 (discussing Ohno's initial monetary contribution to Saints of Glory).

(10.) Id. at 988 (describing Ohno's living situation). Ohno once tried to move out of the Church residences; the Church reprimanded her, not only for attempting to purchase her own apartment but also for negotiating a reduction in price of the apartment. Id.

(11.) See Ohno, 723 F.3d. at 988 (noting Yasuma's repeated negative comments on medication). Years prior to attending Saints of Glory, Ohno was prescribed anti-depressants and tranquilizers for depression. Id.

(12.) Id. at 988 (describing Ohno's obsession with the teachings of Saints of Glory). Ohno stated that she "became obsessed with a sense of guilt that she had not obeyed Jesus Christ." Id.

(13.) Id. at 988 (detailing how Yasuma encouraged Ohno to make monetary "givings"). Id. Ohno transferred JPY800,000 to Yasuma and another minister. Id.

(14.) See Ohno, 723 F.3d at 988 (detailing conversations between Yasuma and Ohno). The conversations were known as "[w]arnings or [Reprimands". Id. Ohno felt "overcome with terror and compelled to tithe" after these conversations. Id.

(15.) Id. (demonstrating Ohno's strict obedience to Yasuma and Saints of Glory). After Ohno transferred the majority of her assets to the Church, she closed her savings account and relied heavily on the church. Id.

(16.) Id. (describing how Saints of Glory evicted Ohno from church residences and left her destitute).

(17.) See Ohno, 723 F.3d at 988-89 (characterizing statements made during conversations between Yasuma and Ohno as fraudulent and threatening).

(18.) Id. at 989 (discussing claims brought under Japanese law).

(19.) Id. at 988-89 (stating Ohno was physically and mentally vulnerable due to her lack of medications). Ohno did not seek restitution for the one-tenth donations that she was required to make as a member. Id. at 988. The Church argued that the donations were faith based and that Ohno was not threatened or induced to donate. Id. The Church also argued that Ohno wanted her money back because she no longer believed in the Church's teachings. Id.

(20.) See Ohno, 723 F.3d at 989 (finding that, given her mental state, Ohno did not transfer money out of her own free will). The Tokyo District Court held that Yasuma and Saints of Glory had illegally induced Ohno to transfer her life savings. Id.

(21.) Id. at 989-90 (discussing how Yasuma and Saints of Glory appealed judgment and the Tokyo High Court affirmed). The Tokyo District Court found that solicitation of donations from Ohno "exceeded the scope of what is socially appropriate." Id. at 989. Grounds for judgment and recovery of damages under tort law may be made when "[a] person ... has intentionally or negligently infringe[d] any right of others, or legally protected interest of others...." Id. at 989. The Tokyo District Court's breakdown of damages awarded to Ohno was as follows: JPY68,678,424 for the large transfers Ohno made in 2002 to Saints of Glory; JPY3,000,000 for pain and suffering, and JPY7,200,000 for attorney's fees. Id.

(22.) Id. at 990 (examining Saints of Glory's objections to enforcement of judgment in California).

(23.) Id. (holding enforcement of judgment was not repugnant to the Free Exercise Clause). The district court found that this case fit within the type of cases governed by the Uniform Act. Id. In addition, because the district court made a preliminary determination that the judgment was a qualifying foreign country money judgment that was not contradictory to the Religion Clause, under the Uniform Act it is mandatory to enforce the judgment. Id.

(24.) See Blum v. Yaretsky, 457 U.S. 991, 1004 (1982) (discussing when constitutional scrutiny is given to a case involving private action). "[C]onstitutional standards are invoked only when it can be said that the State is responsible for the specific conduct of which the plaintiff complains." Id. See also Jackson v. Metropolitan Edison Co., 419 U.S. 345 (1974) (analyzing state action requirement).

(25.) 457 U.S. 922 (1982) (discussing two-prong test to determine scrutiny).

(26.) See Ohno, 723 F.3d at 994 (describing private creditors use of state courts to set prejudgment attachment of defendants' property). The purpose of the test is to analyze "... when governmental involvement in private action is itself sufficient in character and impact that the government fairly can be viewed as responsible for the harm of which the plaintiff complains." Id.

(27.) Id. at 937 (describing each prong of test).

(28.) Id. (defining state actor). A state actor is an individual whose actions can be attributed in some sense to a domestic governmental entity. Id. See also Tsao v. Desert Place, Inc., 698 F.3d 1128, 1140 (2012) (detailing additional tests to determine whether or not a private individual's actions constitute state action).

(29.) See Moose Lodge No. 107 v. Irvis, 407 U.S. 163, 179 (1972) (stating that judicial action can occasionally constitute state action).

(30.) 819 F.2d 875 (1987).

(31.) See id. at 879-81 (explaining court's holding and describing Washington tort law). Washington tort law recognizes claims alleging "conduct causing emotional distress, conduct causing alienation of affections and conduct causing harm to reputation." Id. at 879.

(32.) See id. at 877 (articulating shunning practices of Jehovah's witnesses). Shunning, a form of ostracism, is the consequence imposed on "former members who have been excommunicated from the church." Id. at 876. In certain situations, disassociated persons, "former members who have voluntarily left the Jehovah's Witness faith", are also shunned. Id. at 877.

(33.) See id. at 881 (discussing court's reasoning). See also Langford v. United States, 101 U.S. 341, 345 (1879) (defining tort law and purpose of tort law). The court stated that "the very essence of a tort is that it is an unlawful act". Id. at 345.

(34.) See Paul, 819 F.2d at 881 (assessing burden on Jehovah's Witnesses of tort liability for practice of shunning). Imposing tort damages on Jehovah's Witness faith would directly burden the religious group for engaging in a religious practice. Id.

(35.) Ohno, 723 F.3d at 995 (construing Paul, 819 F.2d at 880) (discussing state action). According to the Paul court, "[t]he test is not the form in which state power has been applied but, whatever the form, whether such power has in fact been exercised." Id. See Shelley v. Kraemer, 334 U.S. 1, 20 (1948) (reasoning courts' enforcement of racially discriminatory covenant is considered governmental discrimination based on race). In Shelley, the Supreme Court held that enforcement of a restrictive covenant that excluded African Americans from a residential community constituted state action. See id. Shelley has been narrowly applied to discrimination claims under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and claims made under the First Amendment. See id. Courts are reluctant to apply the decision in Shelley more broadly because courts want to preserve a distinction between private action and private actors from state actors and governmental control. See id. See also Democratic Nat'l Comm. v. Republican Nat'l Comm., 673 F.3d 192, 204-05 (3rd Cir. 2012) (describing narrow application of Shelley). The Supreme Court has declined to find state action where the court action in question is too dissimilar from the enforcement in Shelley. Id. Court enforcement of a private agreement to limit a party's ability to speak or associate does not necessarily violate the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. See id. at 204-05; see also Edwards v. Flabib, 397 F.2d 687, 691 (1968) (describing repercussions of extending Shelley holding). There, the court noted that "[i]f, for constitutional purposes every private right were transformed into governmental action by the mere fact of court enforcement of it, the distinction between private and governmental action would be obliterated." Id.; see also United States v. American Society of Composers, Authors & Publishers, 708 F. Supp. 95 (S.D.N.Y. 1989) (finding court's enforcement of arbitration was not state action); Golden Gateway Ctr. v. Golden Gateway Tenants Ass'n, 26 Cal. App. 4th 1013, 1033-35 (2001) (holding court's enforcement of lease provision prohibiting tenants from distributing unsolicited newspapers was not state action); State v. Noah, 103 Wash. App. 29, 48-50 (2000) (holding court's enforcement of voluntary settlement agreement prohibiting public criticism of psychological therapy was not state action).

(36.) See Unif. Foreign-Country Money Judgments Recognition Act of 2005 [section] 4, cmt. 8, 13 U.L.A. pt. 2, 28 (Supp. 2011) (discussing enforcement of foreign judgments).

(37.) As of June 2013, approximately nineteen States have enacted some form of the 2005 version of the Uniform Foreign-Country Money Judgments Recognition Act and three states have introduced bills to enact one. Id.; see also Sari Louis Feraud Int'l v. Viewfinder, Inc., 489 F.3d 474, 475 (2d Cir. 2007) (demonstrating strict standard for repugnancy exception). There, the court stated "[t]he public policy inquiry rarely results in refusal to enforce a judgment unless it is inherently vicious, wicked or immoral, and shocking to the prevailing moral sense." Id.; see also Sw. Livestock & Trucking Co. v. Ramon, 169 F.3d 317,319 (5th Cir. 1999) (noting Texas courts will not recognize foreign judgments when in complete opposition of Texas law); accord Ackerman v. Levine, 788 F.2d 830, 833 (2d Cir. 1986) (finding that repugnancy standard is rarely met); Tahan v. Hodgson, 662 F.2d 862, 865 (D.C. Cir. 1981) (holding high standard for repugnancy standard). The standard only applies when the judgment or cause of action is contrary to "fundamental notions of what is decent and just." Id.; but see Andes v. Versant Corp., 878 F.2d 147, 150 (4th Cir. 1989) (finding English law in complete opposition to Maryland law and justifying non-recognition under repugnancy standard).

(38.) See Cal. Civ. Proc. [section] 1716(c)(3) (2008); Unif. Foreign-Country Money Judgments Recognition Act of 2005 [section] 4, cmt. 8, 13 U.L.A. pt. 2, 28 (Supp. 2011) (establishing strict test for when foreign judgment is repugnant to public policy). The test states that "(pjublic policy is violated only if recognition or enforcement of the foreign country judgment would tend clearly to injure public health, the public morals, or the public confidence in the administration of law, or would undermine that sense of security for individual rights, whether of personal liberty or of private property." Id.; see also Hilton v. Guyot, 159 U.S. 113 (1895) (describing how requirements for satisfying public policy exception to comity doctrine are set high); Wong v. Tenneco, Inc., 39 Cal. 3d 126, 135-36 (1985) (allowing enforcement of foreign judgments if public policy harm is merely minimal); Java Oil Ltd. v. Sullivan, 168 Cal. App. 4th 1178, 1189-92 (2008) (stating that the foreign judgment or cause of action must be "so offensive to our public policy as to be prejudicial to recognized standards of morality and to the general interests of citizens." (internal quotation marks omitted)); Restatement (Third) of Foreign Relations Law [section] 482 cmt. f (1987) (clarifying when a judgment is contrary to public policy of recognizing state). The fact that a particular cause of action does not exist or has been abolished in the state where recognition or enforcement is sought does not necessarily make enforcement of a judgment based on such an action contrary to public policy." Id.; see also Restatement (Second) of Conflict of Laws [section] 117 (1971) (stating how U.S. courts will enforce foreign judgments).

(39.) 203 Cal. App. 3d 1402 (1988).

(40.) Id. (finding that enforcement of a judgment for gambling debts was not in opposition of California law). One court described comity as:

   Neither a matter of absolute obligation, on the one hand, nor mere
   courtesy and good will, upon the other. It is the recognition which
   one nation allows within its territory to the legislative,
   executive or judicial acts of another nation, having due regard
   both to international duty and convenience, and to the rights of
   its own citizens or of other persons who are under the protection
   of its laws.

Telnikoff v. Matusevitch, 347 Md. 561, 574 (1997).

(41.) Id.

(42.) See id. at 598-99 (describing stark differences between Maryland law and English law). For example, English law places the burden of proof on media defendants, while U.S. law places the burden on plaintiffs alleging defamation. Id.

(43.) Id. See also Yahoo! Inc.v. La Ligue Contre Le Racisme, 433 F.3d 1199, 1200 (9th Cir. 2006) (describing a California federal decision finding enforcement of a French judgment repugnant to public policy); Bachchan v. India Abroad Public'ns Inc., 585 N.Y.S.2d 661, 665 (1992) (discussing English libel law's placement of burden of proof on media defendants rather than on plaintiffs). Id.

(44.) See Ohno, 723 F.3d at 992 (affirming district court's holding).

(45.) Id. at 994-95 (detailing first Lugar prong). See Lugar v. Edmondson Oil Co., 457 U.S. 922, 936-37 (1982) (applying strict adherence to state action requirement). In Lugar, the Supreme Court discussed the purpose of the state action requirement as "[preserving] an area of individual freedom by limiting the reach of federal law and federal judicial power. It also avoids imposing on the State, its agencies or officials, responsibility for conduct for which they cannot fairly be blamed." Id.

(46.) See Ohno, 723 F.3d at 994-95 (finding that constitutionality of Uniform Act was not being challenged). The court noted that Yasuma was questioning Japanese tort law not the constitutionality of the Uniform Act. Id.

(47.) Id. at 995 (discussing district court's analysis in enforcing Japanese judgment). The district court only applied the Uniform Act; it did not re-try the facts of the case or assess the alleged injuries. Id.

(48.) Id. at 996-97; see also Lugar, 457 U.S. at 937 (discussing second prong of test and purpose of linking the deprivation to state actor). The Supreme Court stated that "[wjithout a limit such as this, private parties could face constitutional litigation whenever they seek to rely on some state rule governing their interactions with the community surrounding them." Id.

(49.) See supra note 28 and accompanying text (describing requirements for state actor). In addition to finding that Ohno was not a state actor, the court also found that the reasoning in Shelley was not applicable in this case because it has narrowly been applied to violations of the Equal Protection clause. Id.

(50.) See Ohno, 723 F.3d at 1002 (detailing standard of review for public policy exception).

(51.) Id. at 1006 (discussing past California tort claims involving religious members against churches for past donations). Churches are not immune from liability or litigation arising out of claims based on religious motivations. Id. Although the Religion Clause protects freedom to believe and freedom to act, the protection does not extend to all acts. Id.

(52.) See id. at 1006-08 (examining differences between Japanese and California tort law). California law does not permit claims against a religion or church focusing purely on emotional injury, because one of the functions of churches and religions is to trigger and elicit an emotional response. Id. In addition, under California law, religious organizations have no duty of care to not inflict emotional injury on their church members. Id. If under Japanese law there is a duty of care, that difference does not make the enforcement of the judgment repugnant to public policy. Id.

(53.) See id. at 1008 (discussing when tort claims can be brought against religious entities under California law). Tort claims may be brought against a religious entity as long as granting a judgment does not require a court to determine the truth or validity of religious beliefs. Id.

(54.) See id. at 1013 (qualifying court's holding and principles of international comity).

(55.) See supra notes 27-28 (explaining two prongs of Lugar analysis).

(56.) See supra notes 45-47 and accompanying text (outlining court's analysis under first Lugar prong).

(57.) See supra note 47.

(58.) See supra note 48 (analyzing whether Ohno could be defined as state actor).

(59.) See supra note 35 and accompanying text (detailing holdings where courts have declined to find state action in enforcing judgments).

(60.) See Ohno, 732 F.3d at 992 (finding no need to address constitutional issues because no state action exists).

(61.) See id. at 995 (distinguishing Paul holding). A key distinction between the case-in-chief and Paul is that Washington provides substantive law that allowed the recovery of damages against Jehovah's Witnesses for shunning a member. Id. Shunning in the Jehovah's witness faith is part of the religion's interpretation. Id. See Paul, 819 F.2d at 875 (holding that Washington's substantive law made enforcement of the judgment state action).

(62.) See supra note 48 and accompanying text (explaining that, because California tort law did not provide the initial remedy, no link connected the actor to the state).

(63.) See supra note 52 (discussing minor significance of the differences between Japanese and California law); see also Cal. Civ. Proc. [section] 1713-1724 (2008). The Uniform Act permits courts to deny recognition to foreign monetary awards if "[t]he judgment or the cause of action or claim for relief on which the judgment is based is repugnant to the public policy of California or of the United States." Id.; see also supra note 2 and accompanying text (detailing various exceptions to Uniform Act and non-enforcement of foreign judgments).

(64.) See Ohno, 723 F.3d at 1003-04 (finding that holding in Telnikoff was appropriate but not applicable in this case); see also Telnikoff, 347 Md. at 561-602 (finding that law granting foreign judgment contradicted domestic law).

(65.) Ohno, 723 F.3d at 1004-05. See supra notes 40, 42 and accompanying text (comparing burden of proof under English libel law as opposed to Maryland law). English law presumes that a false statement was made while under Maryland law the plaintiff must prove that a false statement was made. Id. English defamation law, by shifting the burden of proof on to the defendant, is contrary to both Maryland's Constitution and the U.S. Constitution's doctrine of freedom of the press. Id.

(66.) Ohno, 723 F.3d at 1004-05 (discussing reasoning and analysis in Telnikoff). The court found that solely focusing on the differences between two laws did not address whether a law was repugnant to public policy. Id. Rather, to determine repugnancy, it is preferable to analyze whether the underlying cause of action granting the foreign judgment explicitly targets a conduct protected in the United States. Id.

(67.) See supra note 4 (discussing issues before court).

(68.) See supra notes 6 and 54 (discussing court's holding).
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Author:Mendoza Robledo, Adriana
Publication:Suffolk Transnational Law Review
Date:Jan 1, 2014
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