The Church of Scientology appealed this decision twice to the United State
Supreme Court, and twice to the California Supreme Court. The Church of
Scientology lost all of these appeals. The decision is now final. The full
citation and subsequent history of the case is: Wollersheim v. Church of
Scientology, 212 Cal.App.3d 872, 260 Cal.Rptr. 331 (2d Dist. 1989), review
denied, (Cal. Oct. 26, 1989), review denied, mot. granted, 495 U.S. 902, 110
S.Ct. 1920, 109 L.Ed.2d 284 (1990), cert. denied, 495 U.S. 910, 110 S.Ct. 1937,
109 L.Ed.2d 300 (1990), vacated, remanded, 499 U.S. 914, 111 S.Ct. 1298, 113
L.Ed.2d 234 (1991), on remand, 4 Cal.App.4th 1074, 6 Cal.Rptr.2d 532 (2d Dist.
1992), reh'g denied, 6 Cal.Rptr.2d 532 (Cal.App. 2d Dist. 1992), review
granted, 10 Cal.Rptr.2d 182 (Cal. 1992), review dismissed, cause remanded,
(Cal. July 15, 1993), cert. denied, 114 S.Ct. 1216, 127 L.Ed.2d 562 (1994).

Most interesting in this case is the trial court considering, then rejecting,
the cult's assertion that "Fair Game" and other illegal acts against Larry
Wollersheim were a "core religious activity" and therefore protected under the
Constitution. The trial court rejected this ludicrous claim, stating:

It is not only the acts of coercion themselves -- the
sabotage of Wollersheim's business and the episode of captivity
on the ship -- which are actionable. These acts of coercion and
the threat of like acts make the Church's other harmful conduct actionable as
well. No longer is Wollersheim's continued participation in auditing (or for
that matter, his compliance with the "disconnect" order) merely his
voluntary participation in Scientology's religious practices.
The evidence establishes Wollersheim was coerced into remaining
a member of Scientology and continuing with the auditing process.
Constitutional guaranties of religious freedom do not shield such
conduct from civil liability. We hold the state has a compelling
interest in allowing its citizens to recover for serious
emotional injuries they suffer through religious practices they
are coerced into accepting. Such conduct is too outrageous to
be protected under the Constitution and too unworthy to be
privileged under the law of torts.


CALIFORNIA, Defendant and Appellant
No. B023193

Court of Appeals of California, Second Appellate District, Division Seven

212 Cal.App.3d 872, 260 Cal.Rptr. 331

212 Cal.App.3d at 877:


This appeal arises after a jury awarded $30 million in
compensatory and punitive damages to a former member of the
Church of Scientology of California (the Church or Scientology).
The complaint alleged

212 Cal.App.3d at 878:

appellant intentionally and negligently inflicted severe
emotional injury on respondent through certain practices,
including "auditing," "disconnect," and "fair game." Since the
trial court granted summary adjudication that Scientology is a
religion and "auditing" is a religious practice, the trial
proceeded under the assumption it was. We conclude there was
substantial evidence to support a factual finding the "auditing,"
as well as other practices in this case, were conducted in a
coercive environment. Thus, none of them qualified as "voluntary
religious practices" entitled to constitutional protection under
the First Amendment religious freedom guaranties. At the same
time, we conclude both the compensatory and punitive damages the
jury awarded in this case are excessive. Consequently, we modify
the judgment to reduce both of these damage awards.

Facts and Proceedings Below

Construing the facts most favorably to the judgment, as we
must, respondent Larry Wollersheim was an incipient
manic-depressive for most of his life. Appellant Scientology and
its leaders were aware of Wollersheim's susceptibility to this
mental disorder: What appellant did to him during and after his
years in Scientology aggravated Wollersheim's mental condition,
driving him into deep depressive episodes and causing him severe
mental anguish. Furthermore, Scientology engaged in a practice
of retribution and threatened retribution -- often called "fair
game" -- against members who left or otherwise posed a threat to
the organization. This practice coerced Wollersheim into
continued participation in the other practices of Scientology
which were harming him emotionally.

Wollersheim first became acquainted with Scientology in
early 1969 when he attended a lecture at the "Church of
Scientology of San Francisco." During the next few months he
completed some basic courses at the San Francisco institution.
He then returned to his home state of Wisconsin and did not
resume his Scientology training for almost two years.

When Wollersheim did start again it was at the appellant,
Church of Scientology of California, headquartered in Los
Angeles. From 1972 through 1979 Wollersheim underwent "auditing"
at both the basic and advanced levels. In 1973 he worked several
months as a staff member at the Church of Scientology Celebrity
Center located in Los Angeles. In 1974, despite his repeated
objections, Wollersheim was persuaded to participate in auditing
aboard a ship maintained by Scientology. While on the ship,
Wollersheim was forced to undergo a strenuous regime which began
around 6 a.m. and continued until 1 a.m. the next morning.
Further, Wollersheim and others were forced to sleep nine deep
in the ship's hold. During his six weeks under these conditions,
Wollersheim lost fifteen pounds.

212 Cal.App.3d at 879:

Wollersheim attempted to escape from the ship because he
felt he "was dying and losing [his] mind." His escape was
thwarted by Scientology members who seized Wollersheim and held
him captive until he agreed to remain and continue with the
auditing and other religious practices taking place on the
vessel. One of the psychiatric witnesses testified Wollersheim's
experience on the ship was one of five cataclysmic events
underlying the diagnosis of his mental illness and its cause.

At another stage Scientology auditors convinced him to
"disconnect" from his wife and his parents and other family
members because they had expressed concerns about Scientology and
Wollersheim's continued membership. "Disconnect" meant he was no
longer to have any contact with his family.

There also was evidence of a practice called "freeloader
debt." "Freeloader debt" was accumulated when a staff member
received Church courses, training or auditing at a reduced rate.
If the member later chose to leave, he or she was presented with
a bill for the difference between the full price normally charged
to the public and the price originally charged to the member.
Appellant maintained a "freeloader debt" account for Wollersheim.

During his years with Scientology Wollersheim also started
and operated several businesses. The most successful was the
last, a service which took and printed photographic portraits.
Most of the employees and many of the customers of this business
were Scientologists.

By 1979, Wollersheim's mental condition worsened to the
point he actively contemplated suicide. Wollersheim began
experiencing personality changes and pain. When the Church
learned of Wollersheim's condition, Wollersheim was sent to the
Flag Land Base for "repair."

During auditing at Flag Land Base, Wollersheim's mental
state deteriorated further. He fled the base and wandered the
streets. A guardian later arranged to meet Wollersheim. At that
meeting, the guardian told Wollersheim he was prohibited from
ever speaking of his problems with a priest, a doctor or a

Ultimately Wollersheim became so convinced auditing was
causing him psychiatric problems he was willing to risk becoming
a target of "freeloader debt" and "fair game." Evidence was
introduced that, at least during the time relevant to
Wollersheim's case, "fair game" was a practice of retribution
Scientology threatened to inflict on "suppressives," which
included people who left the organization or anyone who could
pose a threat to the

212 Cal.App.3d at 880:

organization. Once someone was identified as a "suppressive,"
all Scientologists were authorized to do anything to "neutralize"
that individual -- economically, politically, and

After Wollersheim left the organization Scientology leaders
initiated a "fair game" campaign which among other things was
calculated to destroy Wollersheim's photography enterprise. They
instructed some Scientology members to leave Wollersheim's
employ, told others not to place any new orders with him and to
renege on bills they owed on previous purchases from the
business. This strategy shortly drove Wollersheim's photography
business into bankruptcy. His mental condition deteriorated
further and he ended up under psychiatric care.

Wollersheim thereafter filed this lawsuit alleging fraud,
intentional infliction of emotional injury, and negligent
infliction of emotional injury. At the law-and-motion stage, a
trial court granted summary adjudication on two vital questions.
It ruled Scientology is a religion and "auditing" is a religious
practice of that religion.

During trial, Wollersheim's experts testified Scientology's
"auditing" and "disconnect" practices constituted "brain-washing"
and "thought reform" akin to what the Chinese and North Koreans
practiced on American prisoners of war. They also testified this
"brain-washing" aggravated Wollersheim's bipolar manic-depressive
personality and caused his mental illness. Other testimony
established Scientology is a hierarchical organization which
exhibits near paranoid attitudes toward certain institutions and
individuals -- in particular, the government, mental health
professions, disaffected members and others who criticize the
organization or its leadership. Evidence also was introduced
detailing Scientology's retribution policy, sometimes called
"fair game."

After the evidence was heard, the trial judge dismissed the
fraud count but allowed both the intentional and negligent
infliction of emotional injury counts to go to the jury. The
jury, in turn, returned a general verdict in favor of plaintiff
on both counts. It awarded $ 5 million in compensatory damages
and $ 25 million in punitive damages. The motion for new trial
was denied and appellants filed a timely appeal.


Appellant raises a broad spectrum of issues all the way from
a technical statute of limitations defense to a fundamental
constitutional challenge to this entire species of claims against
Scientology. If the narrower grounds of appeal had merit and
disposed of the case we could avoid confronting the

212 Cal.App.3d at 881:

difficult constitutional questions. But since they do not we
must consider Scientology's religious freedom claims.

I. There Is Substantial Evidence to Support Wollersheim's
Claim for Intentional Infliction of Emotional

The cause of action for intentional infliction of emotional
injury formed the centerpiece of the case which went to the jury.
This claim actually cumulates four courses of conduct which
together allegedly inflicted severe emotional damage on the
psychologically weak Wollersheim. These courses of conduct are:
(1) subjecting Wollersheim to forms of "auditing" which
aggravated his predisposition to bipolar mania-depression; (2)
psychologically coercing him to "disconnect" from his family; (3)
"disclosing personal information" Wollersheim revealed during
auditing under a mantle of confidentiality; and, (4) conducting
a retributive campaign "fair game" against Wollersheim and
particularly against his business enterprise.

The tort of intentional infliction of emotional distress was
created to punish conduct "'exceeding all bounds usually
tolerated by a decent society, of a nature which is especially
calculated to cause, and does cause, mental distress.'" (Agarwal
v. Johnson (1979) 25 Cal.3d 932, 946 [160 Cal.Rptr. 141, 603 P.2d
58].) A prima facie case requires: (1) outrageous conduct by the
defendant; (2) an intention by the defendant to cause, or the
reckless disregard of the probability of causing, emotional
distress; (3) severe emotional distress; and (4) an actual and
proximate causation of the emotional distress. (Nally v. Grace
Community Church (1988) 47 Cal.3d 278, 300 [253 Cal.Rptr. 97, 763
P.2d 948].)

"Behavior may be considered outrageous if a defendant (1)
abuses a relation or position which gives him power to damage the
plaintiff's interest; (2) knows the plaintiff is susceptible to
injuries through mental distress; or (3) acts intentionally or
unreasonably with the recognition that the acts are likely to
result in illness through mental distress." (Agarwal v. Johnson,
supra, 25 Cal.3d at p. 946.)

There is substantial evidence to support the jury's finding
on this theory. First, the Church's conduct was manifestly
outrageous. Using its position as his religious leader, the
Church and its agents coerced Wollersheim into continuing
"auditing" although his sanity was repeatedly threatened by this
practice. (See pp. 892-894, post.) Wollersheim was compelled to
abandon his wife and his family through the policy of disconnect.
When his mental illness reached such a level he actively planned
his suicide, he was

212 Cal.App.3d at 882:

forbidden to seek professional help. Finally, when Wollersheim
was able to leave the Church, it subjected him to financial ruin
through its policy of "fair game."

Any one of these acts exceeds the "bounds usually tolerated
by a decent society," so as to constitute outrageous conduct.
In aggregate, there can be no question this conduct warrants
liability unless it is privileged as constitutionally protected
religious activity. (See pp. 883-886, post.)

Second, the Church's actions, if not wholly calculated to
cause emotional distress, unquestionably constituted reckless
disregard for the likelihood of causing emotional distress. The
policy of fair game, by its nature, was intended to punish the
person who dared to leave the Church. Here, the Church actively
encouraged its members to destroy Wollersheim's business.

Further, by physically restraining Wollersheim from leaving
the Church's ship, and subjecting him to further auditing despite
his protests, the Church ignored Wollersheim's emotional state
and callously compelled him to continue in a practice known to
cause him emotional distress.

Third, Wollersheim suffered severe emotional distress.
Indeed, his distress was such that he actively considered suicide
and suffered such psychiatric injury as to require prolonged
professional therapy. (See Fletcher v. Western National Life
Ins. Co. (1970) 10 Cal.App.3d 376, 397 [89 Cal.Rptr. 78, 47
A.L.R.3d 286] [severe emotional distress "may consist of any
highly unpleasant mental reaction such as fright, grief, shame,
humiliation, embarrassment, anger, chagrin, disappointment or

Finally, there is substantial evidence the Church's conduct
proximately caused the severe emotional distress. Wollersheim's
bankruptcy and resulting mental distress was the direct result
of the Church's declaration that he was fair game. Additionally,
according to the psychiatric testimony auditing and disconnect
substantially aggravated his mental illness and triggered several
severe depressive episodes.

In sum, there is ample evidence to support the jury's
verdict on Wollersheim's claim for intentional infliction of
emotional distress. This, however, does not conclude our
inquiry. As we discuss below, Wollersheim's action may
nonetheless be barred if we conclude the Church's conduct was
protected under the free exercise clause of the First Amendment.

212 Cal.App.3d at 883:

II. Constitutional Religious Freedom Guaranties Do Not
Immunize Scientology From Liability for Any of the
Actions on Which Wollersheim's Intentional Infliction
of Emotional Injury Cause of Action Is Based.

Scientology asserts all four courses of conduct comprising
the intentional infliction claim are forms of religious
expression protected by the freedom of religion clauses of the
United States and California Constitutions. We conclude some
would not be protected religious activity even if Wollersheim
freely participated. We further conclude none of these courses
of conduct qualified as protected religious activity in
Wollersheim's case. Here they occurred in a coercive atmosphere
appellant created through threats of retribution against those
who would leave the organization. To explain our conclusions it
is necessary to examine the parameters and rationale of the
religious freedom provisions in some depth.

A. The Basic Principles of the "Free Exercise" Clause.

Religious freedom is guaranteed American citizens in just
16 words in the First Amendment. "Congress shall make no law
respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free
exercise thereof; . . . "(U.S. Const., Amend. I, italics added.)

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - Footnotes - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

n1 All discussion in this opinion as to the freedom of
religion provisions of the United States Constitution applies
also to appellant's claims under article I, section 4 of the
California Constitution which guarantees "[f]ree exercise and
enjoyment of religion without discrimination or preference."

- - - - - - - - - - - - - End Footnotes - - - - - - - - - - - - -

When it was adopted, the First Amendment only applied to the
federal government, not the states. (U.S. Const., 1st Amend.
["Congress shall make no law . . ."], italics added; see Permoli
v. First Municipality (1845) 44 U.S. 589, 609 [11 L.Ed. 739,
748].) However, following ratification of the Fourteenth
Amendment, the First Amendment protections became enforceable
against the states via the Fourteenth Amendment's due process
clause. (California v. Grace Brethren Church (1982) 457 U.S.
393, 396, fn. 1 [73 L.Ed.2d 93, 99, 102 S.Ct. 2498]; Everson
v. Board of Education (1947) 330 U.S. 1, 8 [91 L.Ed. 711, 719,
67 S.Ct. 504, 168 A.L.R. 1392].)

"[T]he application of tort law to activities of a church or
its adherents in their furtherance of their religious belief is
an exercise of state power. When the imposition of liability
would result in the abridgement of the right to free exercise of
religious beliefs, recovery in tort is barred." (Paul
v. Watchtower Bible & Tract Soc. of New York (9th Cir. 1987) 819
F.2d 875, 880; accord Molko v. Holy Spirit Assn. (1988) 46 Cal.3d
1092, 1114 [252 Cal.Rptr. 122, 762 P.2d 46] ["judicial
sanctioning of tort recovery constitutes

212 Cal.App.3d at 884:

state action sufficient to invoke the same constitutional
protections applicable to statutes and other legislative
actions"]; see New York Times Co. v. Sullivan (1964) 376 U.S.
254, 277 [11 L.Ed.2d 686, 705-705, 84 S.Ct. 710, 95 A.L.R.2d

As can be seen, the First Amendment creates two very
different protections. The "establishment clause" -- actually an
"anti-establishment clause" -- guarantees us the government will
not use its resources to impose religion on us. The "free
exercise clause," on the other hand, guarantees us government
will not prevent its citizens from pursuing any religion we

The "establishment clause" comes into play when a government
policy has the effect of promoting religion -- as by financing
religious schools or requiring religious prayers in public
schools, and the like. These policies violate the establishment
clause unless they survive a three-part test. They must have a
secular purpose. Their primary effects must be ones which
neither advance nor inhibit religion. And they must avoid any
excessive entanglements with religion. (Lemon v. Kurtzman (1971)
403 U.S. 602, 612-613 [29 L.Ed.2d 745, 755-756, 91 S.Ct. 2105];
see also Committee for Public Education v. Nyquist (1973) 413
U.S. 756, 773 [37 L.Ed.2d 948, 963, 93 S.Ct. 2955]; Abington
School Dist. v. Schempp (1963) 374 U.S. 203, 222 [10 L.Ed.2d 844,
858, 83 S.Ct. 1560].) The "free exercise clause," in contrast to
the "establishment clause," was adopted without debate or comment
when the First Congress deliberated the Bill of Rights. (Malbin,
Religion and Politics: The Intentions of the Authors of the First
Amendment (1976).) Thus the courts have turned to other writings
by those responsible for the Bill of Rights, especially James
Madison and Thomas Jefferson, to divine the meaning of "free
exercise of religion."

The subsequent cases interpreting these four words make it
clear that while the free exercise clause provides absolute
protection for a person's religious beliefs, it provides only
limited protection for the expression of those beliefs and
especially actions based on those beliefs. (Cantwell
v. Connecticut (1940) 310 U.S. 296, 303-304 [84 L.Ed. 1213,
1217-1218, 60 S.Ct. 900, 128 A.L.R. 1352].) Freedom of belief is
absolutely guaranteed; freedom of action is not. Thus government
cannot constitutionally burden any belief no matter how
outlandish or dangerous. But in certain circumstances it can
burden an expression of belief which adversely affects
significant societal interests.

To do so, the burden on belief must satisfy a four-part
test. First, the government must be seeking to further an
important -- and some opinions suggest a compelling -- state
interest. Second, the burden on expression must be essential to
further this state interest. Third, the type and level of burden
imposed must be the minimum required to achieve the

212 Cal.App.3d at 885:

state interest. Finally, the measure imposing the burden must
apply to everyone, not merely to those who have a religious
belief; that is, it may not discriminate against religion.

A straightforward exposition of three prongs of this test
is found in United States v. Lee (1982) 455 U.S. 252, 257-258 [71
L.Ed.2d 127, 132, 102 S.Ct. 1051] where the Supreme Court held:
"The state may justify a limitation on religious liberty by
showing that it is essential to accomplish an overriding
governmental interest. (Citations omitted.)" All four are
mentioned in Braunfeld v. Brown (1961) 366 U.S. 599, 607 [6
L.Ed.2d 563, 568-569, 81 S.Ct. 1144]: "If the purpose or effect
of a law is to impede the observance of one or all religions or
is to discriminate invidiously between religions, that law is
constitutionally invalid . . . . But if the State regulates
conduct by enacting a general law within its power, the purpose
and effect of which is to advance the State's secular goals, the
statute is valid despite its indirect burden on religious
observance unless the State may accomplish its purpose by means
which do not impose such a burden." (See also Thomas v. Review
Bd., Ind. Empl. Sec. Div. (1981) 450 U.S. 707, 717-718 [67
L.Ed.2d 624, 633-634, 101 S.Ct. 1425]; Wisconsin v. Yoder (1972)
406 U.S. 205, 220 [32 L.Ed.2d 15, 28, 92 S.Ct. 1526]; Gillette
v. United States (1971) 401 U.S. 437, 462 [28 L.Ed.2d 168,
187-188, 91 S.Ct. 828]; Sherbert v. Verner (1963) 374 U.S. 398,
402-403 [10 L.Ed.2d 965, 969-970, 83 S.Ct. 1790]; Cantwell
v. Connecticut, supra, 310 U.S. at pp. 304-305 [84 L.Ed.2d at pp.

A review of the Supreme Court's "free exercise" rulings also
makes it apparent the four critical factors are interrelated.
Roughly speaking, the heavier the burden the government imposes
on the expression of belief and the more significant the
particular form of expression which is burdened, the more
important the state interest must be. Or to put it the other way
around, the more important the interest the state seeks to
further, the heavier the burden it can constitutionally impose
on the more important forms of expressing religious belief.
Thus, only the most compelling of state interests -- such as the
preservation of life or of the state itself -- will justify an
outright ban on an important method of expressing a religious
belief. (See, e.g., Reynolds v. United States (1878) 98 U.S.
145, 164 [25 L.Ed. 244, 249] [polygamy can be outlawed even
though a central religious tenet of the Mormon religion because
it "has always been odious among the northern and western nations
of Europe, . . . and from the earliest history of England has
been treated as an offence against society." (Italics added.)];
Prince v. Massachusetts (1944) 321 U.S. 158, 170 [88 L.Ed. 645,
654-655, 64 S.Ct. 438] [parents can be prohibited from allowing
their children to distribute religious literature even though
this is a religious duty required in order to avoid "everlasting
destruction at Armageddon" where necessary to protect

212 Cal.App.3d at 886:

the health and safety of youth]; Jacobson v. Massachusetts (1905)
197 U.S. 11, 26 [49 L.Ed. 643, 649-650, 25 S.Ct. 358] [adults and
children can be compelled to be vaccinated for communicable
diseases even though their religious beliefs oppose vaccination
because as was observed in Prince v. Massachusetts, supra, 321
U.S. at pp. 166-167 (88 L.Ed. at p. 653), "[T]he right to
practice religion freely does not include liberty to expose the
community or the child to communicable disease or the latter to
ill health or death"].)

But a less significant state interest may be enough where
the burden is less direct or the form of expression less central
to the exercise of the particular religion. (See, e.g., Goldman
v. Weinberger (1986) 475 U.S. 503, 509-510 [89 L.Ed.2d 478,
485-486, 106 S.Ct. 1310] where the military's apparently rather
marginal interest in absolutely uniform attire was enough to
justify an outright ban against a Jewish officer's apparently
rather marginal form of religious expression in wearing a
yarmulke [a religious cap.] indoors.) In Bowen v. Roy (1986) 476
U.S. 693 [90 L.Ed.2d 735, 106 S.Ct. 2147], disapproved on other
grounds in Hobbie v. Unemployment Appeals Commission (1987) 480
U.S. 136, 141 [94 L.Ed.2d 190, 197-198, 107 S.Ct. 1046], the U.S.
Supreme Court found the federal government's interest in
administrative convenience in preventing fraud in a benefit
program was enough to justify the minimal burden of denying
benefits to those who because of religious beliefs refuse to
obtain and reveal social security numbers. (Braunfeld v. Brown,
supra, 366 U.S. 599, 605 [6 L.Ed.2d 563, 567] [governmental
interest in prohibiting economic activity on Sundays is enough
to justify imposing the burden of an economic loss on those
orthodox Jews who choose to exercise their religious belief that
they not work on Saturdays and thus lose two rather than only one
day's opportunity to earn money. "[T]he case before us . . .
does not make unlawful any religious practices of appellants; the
Sunday law simply regulates a secular activity and, as applied
to appellants, operates so as to make the practice of their
religious beliefs more expensive"], italics added.)

We now apply the above principles to the four courses of
conduct alleged in Wollersheim's intentional infliction of
emotional injury cause of action. To be entitled to
constitutional protection under the freedom of religion clauses
any course of conduct must satisfy three requirements. First,
the system of thought to which the course of conduct relates must
qualify as a "religion," not a philosophy or science or personal
preference. Thus, it is unlikely a psychiatrist could
successfully shield himself from malpractice by asserting he was
merely practicing the "religion" of psychotherapy and following
the "religious" teachings of Freud and Jung. Second, the course
of conduct must qualify as an expression of that religion and not
just an activity that religious people happen to be doing. Thus,
driving a

212 Cal.App.3d at 887:

Sunday-school bus does not constitute a religious practice
merely because the bus is owned by a religion, the driver is an
ordained minister of the religion, and the bus is taking church
members to a religious ceremony. (See Malloy v. Fong (1951) 37
Cal.2d 356, 373 [232 P.2d 241] [religious organization held
liable for employee's negligent driving]; Meyers v. S.W. Reg.
Con. Ass'n. of Seventh Day Adv. (1956) 230 La. 310 [88 So.2d 381,
386] [First Amendment does not bar minister's workers'
compensation action against church for injuries arising from auto
accident which occurred when minister was traveling to church
conference].) And, third, the religious expression must not
inflict so much harm that there is a compelling state interest
in discouraging the practice which outweighs the values served
by freedom of religion. Thus, the fact polygamy was a central
practice of the Mormon religion was not enough to qualify it for
constitutional protection from state governments which desired
to ban this practice.

This means we must first ask three questions as to each of
the four courses of conduct Wollersheim alleged against
Scientology. (1) Does Scientology qualify as a religion? (2)
If so, is the course of conduct at issue an expression of the
religion of Scientology? (3) If it is, does the public
nevertheless have a compelling secular interest in discouraging
this course of conduct even though it qualifies as a religious
expression of the Scientology religion? After answering these
three questions, however, the special circumstances of this case
require us to ask a fourth. Did Wollersheim participate in this
course of conduct voluntarily or did Scientology coerce his
continued participation through the threat of serious sanctions
if he left the religion?

The threshold question for all four courses of conduct is
whether Scientology qualifies as a religion. As will be
recalled, at the law-and-motion stage, a judge granted summary
adjudication on this issue. That court ruled Scientology indeed
was a religion. And at the trial stage, another judge reinforced
this ruling by submitting the case to the jury with an
instruction that Scientology is a religion.

As a result of the law-and-motion judge's decision on this
question, evidence was not introduced at trial on the specific
issue of whether Scientology is a religion. Given that vacuum
of information, it would be presumptuous of this court to attempt
a definitive decision on this vital question. We note other
appellate courts have observed this remains a very live and
interesting question. (See Founding Church of Scientology
v. United States (D.C. Cir. 1969) 409 F.2d 1146, 1160-1161 [133
App.D.C. 229, 13 A.L.R.Fed. 721]; Founding Church of Scientology
v. Webster (D.C. Cir. 1986) 802 F.2d 1448, 1451 [256 App.D.C. 54]
["whether Scientology is a religious organization, a for-profit
private enterprise, or something far more

212 Cal.App.3d at 888:

extraordinary [is] an intriguing question that this suit does not
call upon us to examine . . . ."].) However, we have no occasion
to go beyond a review of the summary adjudication decision the
trial court reached at the law-and-motion stage. In reviewing
this decision, we find that on the evidence before the court the
judge properly ruled Scientology qualifies as a religion within
the meaning of the freedom of religion clauses of the United
States and California Constitutions.

This brings us to the remaining three questions as to each
of the four courses of conduct: Is the conduct a "religious
practice"? If so, is there a compelling secular interest in
requiring compensation for the injuries attributable to that
practice? If the constitutional immunity is not overridden by
a compelling state interest in the ordinary situation, is it
nevertheless stripped away here because the religion coerced the
injured member into continuing his participation in the practice?

B. Even Assuming the Retributive Conduct Sometimes
Called "Fair Game" Is a Core Practice of
Scientology It Does Not Qualify for
Constitutional Protection.

As we have seen, not every religious expression is worthy
of constitutional protection. To illustrate, centuries ago the
inquisition was one of the core religious practices of the
Christian religion in Europe. This religious practice involved
torture and execution of heretics and miscreants. (See generally
Peters, Inquisition (1988); Lea, The Inquisition of the Middle
Ages (1961).) Yet should any church seek to resurrect the
inquisition in this country under a claim of free religious
expression, can anyone doubt the constitutional authority of an
American government to halt the torture and executions? And can
anyone seriously question the right of the victims of our
hypothetical modern day inquisition to sue their tormentors for
any injuries -- physical or psychological -- they sustained?

We do not mean to suggest Scientology's retributive program
as described in the evidence of this case represented a
full-scale modern day "inquisition." Nevertheless, there are some
parallels in purpose and effect. "Fair game" like the
"inquisition" targeted "heretics" who threatened the dogma and
institutional integrity of the mother church. Once "proven" to
be a "heretic," an individual was to be neutralized. In medieval
times neutralization often meant incarceration, torture, and
death. (Peters, Inquisition, supra, pp. 57, 65-67, 87, 92-94,
98, 117-118, 133-134; Lea, The Inquisition of the Middle Ages,
supra, pp. 181, 193-202, 232-236, 250-264, 828-829.) As described
in the evidence at this trial the "fair game" policy neutralized
the "heretic" by stripping this person of his or her economic,
political and psychological power. (See, e.g., Allard v. Church
of Scientology

212 Cal.App.3d at 889:

(1976) 58 Cal.App.3d 439, 444 [129 Cal.Rptr. 797] [former church
member falsely accused by Church of grand theft as part of "fair
game" policy, subjecting member to arrest and imprisonment].)

In the instant case, at least, the prime focus of the "fair
game" campaign was against the "heretic" Wollersheim's economic
interests. Substantial evidence supports the inference
Scientology set out to ruin Wollersheim's photography enterprise.
Scientologists who worked in the business were instructed to
resign immediately. Scientologists who were customers were told
to stop placing orders with the business. Most significantly,
those who owed money for previous orders were instructed to
renege on their payments. Although these payments actually were
going to a factor not Wollersheim, the effect was to deprive
Wollersheim of the line of credit he needed to continue in

Appellant argues these "fair game" practices are protected
religious expression. They cite to a recent Ninth Circuit case
upholding the constitutional right of the Jehovah's Witness
Church and its members to "shun" heretics from that religion even
though the heretics suffer emotional injury as a result. (Paul
v. Watchtower Bible & Tract Soc. of New York, supra, 819 F.2d
875.) In this case a former Jehovah's Witness sued the church and
certain church leaders for injuries she claimed to have suffered
when the church ordered all other church members to "shun" her.
In the Jehovah Witness religion, "shunning" means church members
are prohibited from having any contact whatsoever with the former
member. They are not to greet them or conduct any business with
them or socialize with them in any manner. Thus, there was a
clear connection between the religious practice of "shunning" and
Ms. Paul's emotional injuries. Nonetheless, the trial court
dismissed her case. The Ninth Circuit affirmed in an opinion
which expressly held "shunning" is a constitutionally protected
religious practice. "[T]he defendants, . . . possess an
affirmative defense of privilege -- a defense that permits them
to engage in the practice of shunning pursuant to their religious
beliefs without incurring tort liability." (Id. at p. 879.)

We first note another appellate court has taken the opposite
view on the constitutionality of "shunning." (Bear v. Reformed
Mennonite Church (1975) 462 Pa. 330 [341 A.2d 105].) In this case
the Pennsylvania Supreme Court confronted a situation similar to
Paul v. Watchtower Bible & Tract Soc. of New York. The plaintiff
was a former member of the Mennonite Church. He was
excommunicated for criticizing the church. Church leaders
ordered that all members must "shun" the plaintiff. As a result,
both his business and family collapsed. The appellate court
reversed the trial court's dismissal of the action, holding: "In
our opinion, the complaint, . . . raises issues that the
'shunning' practice of appellee church and the conduct of the

212 Cal.App.3d at 890:

individuals may be an excessive interference within areas of
'paramount state concern,' i.e., the maintenance of marriage and
family relationship, alienation of affection, and the tortious
interference with a business relationship, which the courts of
this Commonwealth may have authority to regulate, even in light
of the 'Establishment' and 'Free Exercise' clauses of the First
Amendment." (Bear v. Reformed Mennonite Church, supra, 341 A.2d
at p. 107, italics in original.)

We observe the California Supreme Court has cited with
apparent approval the viewpoint on "shunning" expressed in Bear
v. Mennonite Church, supra, rather than the one adopted in Paul
v. Watchtower Bible & Tract Soc. of New York, supra. (See Molko
v. Holy Spirit Assn., supra, 46 Cal.3d 1092, 1114.) But even were
Paul v. Watchtower Bible & Tract Soc. of New York the law of this
jurisdiction it would not support a constitutional shield for
Scientology's retribution program. In the instant case
Scientology went far beyond the social "shunning" of its heretic,
Wollersheim. Substantial evidence supports the conclusion
Scientology leaders made the deliberate decision to ruin
Wollersheim economically and possibly psychologically. Unlike
the plaintiff in Paul v. Watchtower Bible & Tract Soc. of New
York, Wollersheim did not suffer his economic harm as an
unintended byproduct of his former religionists' practice of
refusing to socialize with him any more. Instead he was
bankrupted by a campaign his former religionists carefully
designed with the specific intent it bankrupt him. Nor was this
campaign limited to means which are arguably legal such as
refusing to continue working at Wollersheim's business or to
purchase his services or products. Instead the campaign featured
a concerted practice of refusing to honor legal obligations
Scientologists owed Wollersheim for services and products they
already had purchased.

If the Biblical commandment to render unto Caesar what is
Caesar's and to render unto God what is God's has any meaning in
the modern day it is here. Nothing in Paul v. Watchtower Bible
& Tract Soc. of New York or any other case we have been able to
locate even implies a religion is entitled to constitutional
protection for a campaign deliberately designed to financially
ruin anyone -- whether a member or nonmember of that religion.
Nor have we found any cases suggesting the free exercise clause
can justify a refusal to honor financial obligations the state
considers binding and legally enforceable. One can only imagine
the utter chaos that could overtake our economy if people who
owed money to others were entitled to assert a freedom of
religion defense to repayment of those debts. It is not unlikely
the courts would soon be flooded with debtors who claimed their
religion prohibited them from paying money they owed to others.

We are not certain a deliberate campaign to financially ruin
a former member or the dishonoring of debts owed that member
qualify as "religious

212 Cal.App.3d at 891:

practices" of Scientology. But if they do, we have no problem
concluding the state has a compelling secular interest in
discouraging these practices. (See pp. 884-886, supra.)
Accordingly, we hold the freedom of religion guaranties of the
United States and California Constitutions do not immunize these
practices from civil liability for any injuries they cause to
"targets" such as Wollersheim.

C. "Auditing" Is a Constitutionally Protected
Religious Practice Where It Is Conducted in a
Noncoercive Environment But Is Not Protected
Where Conducted Under a Threat of Economic,
Psychological and Political Retribution as It Was

Auditing is a process of one-on-one dialogue between a
Scientology "auditor" and a Scientology student. The student
ordinarily is connected to a crude lie detector, a so-called
"E-Meter." The auditor asks probing questions and notes the
student's reactions as registered on the E-Meter.

Through the questions, answers, and E-meter readings, the
auditor seeks to identify the student's "n-grams" or "engrams."
These "engrams" are negative feelings, attitudes, or incidents
that act as blockages preventing people from realizing their full
potential and living life to the fullest. Since Scientology holds
the view people actually have lived many past lives over millions
of years they carry "engrams" accumulated during those past lives
as well as some from their present ones. Once the auditor
identifies an "engram" the auditor and the student work to
surface and eliminate it. The goal is to identify and eliminate
all the student's engrams so he or she can achieve the state of
"clear." Students can pass through several levels of "auditing"
en route to ever higher states of "clear."

Auditing performs a similar function for Scientology as
sermons and other forms of mass persuasion do for many religions.
In those religions, ministers, priests or other clergy preach to
the multitude in order to bring their adherents into line with
the religion's principles. Scientology instead emphasizes a
one-on-one approach -- the "auditing" process -- to accomplish
the same purpose.

At the law-and-motion stage, the trial court granted summary
adjudication that "auditing" is a "religious practice" of
Scientology. Once again, our review of the trial court decision
reveals that on the basis of the evidence before the court on
that occasion, the ruling is correct. Thus for purposes of this
appeal we find "auditing" qualifies as a "religious practice"
just as Scientology qualifies as a "religion."

Having found for purposes of this appeal that Scientology
is a religion and auditing is a religious practice, we must next
ask whether the state

212 Cal.App.3d at 892:

has a "compelling interest" in awarding compensation for any harm
auditing may cause which outweighs the values served by the
religious expression guaranties of the Constitution.

We first note we have already held there was substantial
evidence to support a jury finding that what happened during the
"auditing" process, along with Scientology's other conduct toward
Wollersheim, caused this particular adherent serious emotional
injury. We further found substantial evidence Scientology
leaders were aware of Wollersheim's psychological weakness and
yet continued practices during auditing sessions which caused the
kinds of psychological stress that led to his mental breakdown.
Thus, there is adequate proof the religious practice of auditing
caused real harm in this instance to this individual and that
appellant's outrageous conduct caused that harm. Furthermore,
there is sufficient evidence to support a conclusion that despite
its knowledge auditing was aggravating Wollersheim's serious
psychological problems appellants deliberately insisted he not
seek help from professional psychotherapists. None of this,
however, means auditing represents such a threat of harm to
society that the state has a compelling interest in awarding
compensation which overcomes the values served by the religious
expression guaranties of the Constitution.

To better understand why we conclude voluntary auditing may
be entitled to immunity from liability for the emotional injuries
it causes, consider some analogies. Assume Wollersheim were not
a former Scientologist, but a former follower of one of the
scores of Christian denominations. Further assume he sued on
grounds a preacher's sermons filled him with such feelings of
inferiority and guilt his manic-depressive condition was
aggravated to the same degree Wollersheim contends auditing
aggravated his mental illness in this case. Or assume another
Wollersheim sued another church for a similar emotional injury
on grounds his mental illness had been triggered by what a cleric
told him about his sins during a confession -- or series of
confessions. It is one of the functions of many religions to
"afflict the comfortable" -- to deliberately generate deep
psychological discomfort as a means of motivating "sinners" to
stop "sinning." Whether by "hell fire and damnation" preaching,
"speaking in tongues," private chastising, or a host of subtle
and not so subtle techniques religion seeks to make us better

Many of these techniques are capable of inflicting emotional
distress severe enough that it is foreseeable some with
psychiatric problems will "crack" or be driven into a deep
depression. But the Constitution values the good religion does
for the many more than the psychological injury it may inflict
on the few. Thus, it cannot tolerate lawsuits which might chill
religious practices -- such as auditing, "hell fire and
damnation" preaching,

212 Cal.App.3d at 893:

confessions, and the like -- where the only harm which occurs is
emotional injury to the psychologically weak.

There is an element present in the instant case, however,
that reduces the religious value of the "auditing" practiced on
Wollersheim and increases its harm to the community. This is the
element of coercion. Scientology, unlike most other religions or
organizations claiming a religious purpose, uses various
sanctions and the threat of sanctions to induce continued
membership in the Church and observance of its practices. These
sanctions include "fair game," "freeloader debt" and even
physical restraint. There was nothing in the evidence presented
at this trial suggesting new recruits and members undergoing
lower-level "auditing" were subject to sanctions if they decided
to leave. Nor was there evidence these recruits or "lower level"
auditors would be aware any program of sanctions even existed and
thus might be intimidated by it. But there was evidence others,
like Wollersheim, who rose to higher levels of auditing and
especially those, like Wollersheim, who became staff members --
the rough equivalent of becoming a neophyte priest or minister
- -- were aware of these sanctions and what awaited them if they
chose to "defect." Thus, their continued participation in
"auditing" and the other practices of Scientology was not
necessarily voluntary.

Wollersheim was familiar with the whole spectrum of
sanctions and indeed was the target of some during and after his
affiliation with Scientology. He first learned of one of these
forms of retribution, "fair game," in 1970. He also knew that,
despite the Church's public rejection of the fair game practice,
it continued to use fair game against targeted ex-Scientologists
throughout the 1970's. Under Scientology's "fair game" policy,
someone who threatened Scientology by leaving the church "may be
deprived of property or injured by any means by a Scientologist
. . . . [The targeted defector] may be tricked, sued or lied to
or destroyed."

Wollersheim feared "fair game" would be practiced against
him if he refused further auditing and left the Church of
Scientology. As described in the previous section, those fears
proved to be accurate. Scientology leaders indeed became very
upset by his defection and retaliated against his business.

But "fair game" was not the only sanction which Scientology
held over Wollersheim's head during his years as an "upper level"
auditor and occasional staff member. Scientology also used a
tactic called "freeloader debt" as a means of coercing
Wollersheim's continued participation in the church and obedience
to its practices. "Freeloader debt" was devised by Scientology
founder L. Ron Hubbard as a means of punishing members who, inter

212 Cal.App.3d at 894:

alia, chose to leave the Church or refused to disconnect from
a suppressive person.

"Freeloader debt" was accumulated when a staff member
received Church courses, training or auditing at a reduced rate.
The Church maintained separate records which listed the discounts
allowed. If the member later chose to leave, he or she was
presented with a bill for the difference between the full price
normally charged to the public and the price originally charged
to the member.n2 A person who stayed in the Church for five
years could easily accumulate a "freeloader debt" of between
$ 10,000 and $ 50,000. Wollersheim was familiar with the
"freeloader debt" policy as well as the "fair game" policy. He
also knew the Church was recording the courses and auditing
sessions he was receiving at the discounted rate. The threat of
facing that amount of debt represented a powerful economic
sanction acting to coerce continued participation in auditing
as the core religious practice of the Church of Scientology.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - Footnotes - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

n2 During the 1970's a staff member was paid approximately
$ 17 per week for an expected 50 hours of work. In 1973,
Wollersheim earned between $ 10 to $ 18 per week when he worked
at the Celebrity Center as a staff member. This salary was
augmented by an occasional $ 10 bonus.

- - - - - - - - - - - - End Footnotes - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

There also was evidence Wollersheim accepted some of his
auditing under threat of physical coercion. In 1974, despite his
repeated objections, Wollersheim was induced to participate in
auditing aboard a ship Scientology maintained as part of its
Rehabilitation Project Force. The Church obtained Wollersheim's
attendance by using a technique dubbed "bait and badger." As the
name suggests, this tactic deployed any number of Church members
against a recalcitrant member who was resisting a Church order.
They would alternately promise the "bait" of some reward and
"badger" him with verbal scare tactics. In the instant case, five
Scientologists "baited and badgered" Wollersheim continuously for
three weeks before he finally gave in and agreed to attend the
Rehabilitation Project Force.

But these verbal threats and psychological pressure tactics
were only the beginning of Wollersheim's ordeal. While on the
ship, Wollersheim was forced to undergo a strenuous regime which
began around 6 a.m. and continued until 1 a.m. the next morning.
The regime included mornings of menial and repetitive cleaning
of the ship followed by an afternoon of study or coauditing. The
evenings were spent working and attending meetings or
conferences. Wollersheim and others were forced to sleep in the
ship's hole. A total of 30 people were stacked 9 high in this
hole without proper ventilation. During his six weeks under
these conditions, Wollersheim lost fifteen pounds.

212 Cal.App.3d at 895:

Ultimately, Wollersheim felt he could bear the regime no
longer. He attempted to escape from the ship because as he
testified later: "I was dying and losing my mind." But his escape
effort was discovered. Several Scientology members seized
Wollersheim and held him captive. They released him only when
he agreed to remain and continue with the auditing and other
"religious practices" taking place on the vessel.

One of the psychiatric witnesses testified that in her
opinion Wollersheim's experience on the ship was one of five
cataclysmic events underlying her diagnosis of his mental illness
and its cause. As the psychiatrist reported, following this
incident, Wollersheim felt the Church "broke him." In any event,
this episode demonstrated the Church was willing to physically
coerce Wollersheim into continuing with his auditing. Moreover
they were willing to do so even when it was apparent this
practice was causing him serious mental distress and he preferred
to cease or at least suspend this particular religious practice.
Not only was the particular series of auditing sessions on the
ship conducted under threat of physical compulsion, but the
demonstrated willingness to use physical coercion infected later
auditing sessions. The fact the Church was willing to use
physical coercion on this occasion to compel Wollersheim's
continued participation in auditing added yet another element to
the coercive environment under which he took part in the auditing

There was substantial evidence here from which the jury
could have concluded Wollersheim was subjecting himself to
auditing because of the coercive environment with which
Scientology had surrounded him. To leave the Church or to cease
auditing he had to run the risk he would become a target of "fair
game," face an enormous burden of "freeloader debt," and even
confront physical restraint. A religious practice which takes
place in the context of this level of coercion has less religious
value than one the recipient engages in voluntarily. Even more
significantly, it poses a greater threat to society to have
coerced religious practices inflicted on its citizens.

There are important analogies to Molko v. Holy Spirit Assn.,
supra, 46 Cal.3d 1092. In Molko the California Supreme Court held
a religious organization could be held civilly liable for using
deception and fraud to seduce new recruits into the church.n3
In that case the church concealed from new

212 Cal.App.3d at 896:

recruits the fact they were enlisting in the Unification Church.
The plaintiffs argued the Unification Church psychologically and
physically coerced them into accepting the Church and, therefore,
they were unable to refuse formally joining once the Church's
true identity was revealed. (Id. at pp. 1108-1109.) The Supreme
Court agreed and further concluded there was no constitutional
infirmity to bar the action.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - Footnotes - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

n3 In Molko, two plaintiffs brought actions against the
Unification Church for, inter alia, fraud and intentional
infliction of emotional distress based upon the Unification
Church's initial misrepresentations concerning its religious
affiliation. The Supreme Court held the First Amendment did not
bar the plaintiffs' claims to the extent they were based upon
actual coercive conduct by the Unification Church as opposed to
merely the threat of divine retribution should the plaintiffs

- - - - - - - - - - - - -End Footnotes- - - - - - - - - - - - - -

"We conclude . . . that although liability for deceptive
recruitment practices imposes a marginal burden on the Church's
free exercise of religion, the burden is justified by the
compelling state interest in protecting individuals and families
from the substantial threat to public safety, peace and order
posed by the fraudulent induction of unconsenting individuals
into an atmosphere of coercive persuasion." (46 Cal.3d at p.

Here Scientology used coercion -- "fair game," "freeloader
debt," and in this instance, at least, physical restraint, along
with the threat one or more of these sanctions will be deployed
- -- to prevent its members from leaving the Church. This coercion
is similar to the coercion found in Molko and far different from
the threat of divine retribution our Supreme Court held was
nonactionable. (46 Cal.3d at pp. 1120, 1122 ["To the extent the
claims are based merely on threats of divine retribution if [the
plaintiffs] left the church, they cannot stand"].) Instead,
Scientology promised -- and in this case delivered -- retribution
in the here and now.

In O'Moore v. Driscoll (1933) 135 Cal.App. 770 [28 P.2d
438], cited with approval by the California Supreme Court in
Molko v. Holy Spirit Assn., supra, 46 Cal.3d 1092, 1114, a
Catholic priest sued a Catholic organization and an ordained
priest for false imprisonment when the plaintiff was restrained
in an asylum run by the Catholic Church to compel his confession
to criminal acts. The practice of confessing one's sins is an
established religious practice of the Catholic church. But that
did not immunize the defendants from liability for harm the
plaintiff suffered where the religious practice was imposed on
him in a coercive environment. (Driscoll, supra, 135 Cal.App.
at p. 774.)

In the instant case except for the experience on the ship
the coercion was more subtle than physical restraint. Yet the
threat of "fair game" and "freeloader debt" and even the
possibility of future physical restraint loomed over Wollersheim
whenever he contemplated leaving Scientology and terminating
auditing or the other practices of that religion.

It is not only the acts of coercion themselves -- the
sabotage of Wollersheim's business and the episode of captivity
on the ship -- which are actionable. These acts of coercion and
the threat of like acts make the Church's

212 Cal.App.3d at 897:

other harmful conduct actionable as well. No longer is
Wollersheim's continued participation in auditing (or for that
matter, his compliance with the "disconnect" order) merely his
voluntary participation in Scientology's religious practices.
The evidence establishes Wollersheim was coerced into remaining
a member of Scientology and continuing with the auditing process.
Constitutional guaranties of religious freedom do not shield such
conduct from civil liability. We hold the state has a compelling
interest in allowing its citizens to recover for serious
emotional injuries they suffer through religious practices they
are coerced into accepting. Such conduct is too outrageous to
be protected under the Constitution and too unworthy to be
privileged under the law of torts.

We further conclude this compelling interest outweighs any
burden such liability would impose on the practice of auditing.
We concede as the California Supreme Court did in Molko that
allowing tort liability for this conduct imposes some burden on
appellants' free exercise of this religion.n4 Despite the
possibility of liability Scientologists can still believe it
serves a religious purpose to impose and threaten to impose
various sanctions on staff members or upper level auditors who
might leave the church or cease its core religious practices.
But it does place a burden on Scientologists should they act on
that belief. Scientology would be subject to possible monetary
loss if someone suffers severe psychological harm during auditing
where that auditing is conducted under the threat of these
sanctions. Likewise, Scientology may lose some staff members and
upper level auditors who would not continue in the Church or
continue to submit to the core practice of auditing except for
their fears of retribution.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - Footnotes - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

n4 "While such liability does not impair the Church's right
to believe in recruiting through deception, its very purpose is
to discourage the Church from putting such belief into practice
by subjecting the church to possible monetary loss for doing so.
Further, liability presumably impairs the Church's ability to
convert nonbelievers, because some potential members who would
have been recruited by deception will choose not to associate
with the Church when they are told its true identity." (Molko
v. Holy Spirit Assn., supra, 46 Cal.3d 1092, 1117.)

- - - - - - - - - - - - - End Footnotes - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Like the Supreme Court in Molko, however, we find these
burdens "while real, are not substantial" and, moreover, are the
minimum required to achieve the state interest. To borrow from
the high court's language in Molko: "Being subject to liability
[for coerced auditing] does not in any way or degree prevent or
inhibit [Scientologists] from operating their religious
communities, worshipping as they see fit, freely associating with
one another, selling or distributing literature, proselytizing
on the street, soliciting funds, or generally spreading [L. Ron
Hubbard's] message among the population. It certainly does not
. . . compel [Scientologists] to perform acts 'at odds with
fundamental tenets of their religious beliefs.' [Citation
omitted.]" (Molko v. Holy Spirit Assn., supra, 46 Cal.3d 1092,

212 Cal.App.3d at 898:

Most significantly, by imposing liability in the instant
case we "in no way or degree prevent or inhibit" Scientology from
continuing the free exercise of the religious practice of
auditing. Returning to the words of the Supreme Court: "At most,
it potentially closes one questionable avenue for" coercing
certain members to remain in the church and to continue its core
practices such as auditing. (46 Cal.3d at p. 1117.)

D. The "Disconnect" Policy Is Not a Constitutionally
Protected Religious Practice in the Circumstances
of This Case.

Substantial evidence supports the conclusion Scientology
encouraged Wollersheim to "disconnect" from family members,
including his wife and parents. Furthermore, substantial evidence
supports the conclusion Scientology has a general policy of
encouraging members to "disconnect" from non-Scientologists who
oppose Scientology or express reservations about its teachings.

The first question is whether the "disconnect" policy
qualifies as a "religious practice" of Scientology. The trial
court did not grant summary adjudication on this factual issue.
Nonetheless, we find the evidence supported the conclusion
disconnect is a "religious practice." "Disconnect" is similar in
purpose and effect to the "shunning" practiced by Jehovah's
Witnesses and Mennonites, among others. It also shares some
attributes with the remote monasteries common to many other
religions. All of these practices serve to isolate members from
those, including family members, who might weaken their adherence
to the religion. Courts have held these policies qualify as
"religious practices" of other religions. (See, e.g., Paul
v. Watchtower Bible & Tract Soc. of New York, supra, 819 F.2d
875, 879-880; Rasmussen v. Bennett (Mont. 1987) 741 P.2d 755
[church statements condemning plaintiffs' conduct and calling for
shunning were privileged under the First Amendment].) We see no
justification for treating Scientology's "disconnect" policy
differently and thus hold it is a "religious practice."

We recognize the "shunning" cases have involved claims
brought by former church members whom other family members were
ordered to shun. The instant case, in contrast, involves a cause
of action brought by a former church member ordered to shun the
rest of his family not the other way around. In the
circumstances of this case this is a distinction without a
difference. Here appellant caused Wollersheim to isolate himself
from his parents, wife and other family members even though
appellant had reason to know it would inflict serious emotional
injury on him. The injury to him and to the family was just as
severe as if his family had "shunned" him.

We need not and do not reach the question whether the
practice of "disconnect" is constitutionally protected religious
activity in ordinary circumstances.

212 Cal.App.3d at 899:

(Contrast Paul v. Watchtower Bible & Tract Soc. of New York,
supra, 819 F.2d 875 [religion cannot be held civilly liable to
shunned former member because "shunning" is constitutionally
protected] with Bear v. Reformed Mennonite Church, supra, 341
A.2d 105 [religion may be civilly liable to shunned former member
because "shunning" must yield to compelling state interest in
promoting family relations].) Whether or not the "disconnect"
policy is constitutionally protected when practiced in a
voluntary context it is not so protected if practiced in the
coercive environment appellant imposed on Wollersheim. The
reasons are the same as apply to "auditing." (See pp. 893-898,
ante.) Substantial evidence supports the finding Scientology
created this coercive environment and Wollersheim continued to
submit to the practices of the church such as "disconnect"
because of that coercion. Furthermore, the evidence in the
instant case is sufficient to support a factual finding appellant
imposed the "disconnect" policy on Wollersheim with the knowledge
he was psychologically susceptible and therefore would suffer
severe emotional injury as a result. Accordingly, in the
circumstances of this case, the free exercise clause did not
immunize appellants from liability for the "disconnect" policy
practiced on respondent.

E. Scientology's Improper Disclosure of Information
Wollersheim Gave During Confidential Religious
Sessions Is Not Religious Expression Immunized
From Liability by the Constitution.

There is substantial evidence Wollersheim divulged private
information during auditing sessions under an explicit or
implicit promise the information would remain confidential.
Moreover, there is substantial evidence Scientology leaders and
employees shared this confidential information and used it to
plan and implement a "fair game" campaign against Wollersheim.
Scientology argues there also is substantial evidence in the
record supporting its defense that Scientology leaders and
employees shared this confidential information only in accordance
with normal procedures and for the purpose of gaining the advice
and assistance of more experienced Scientologists in evaluating
Wollersheim's auditing sessions. However, the jury was entitled
to disregard this innocent explanation and to believe
Wollersheim's version of how and why Scientology divulged
information he had supplied in confidence.

The intentional and improper disclosure of information
obtained during auditing sessions for nonreligious purposes can
hardly qualify as "religious expression." To clarify the point,
we turn once again to a hypothetical situation which presents a
rough analogy under a traditional religion. Imagine a stockbroker
had confessed to a cleric in a confessional that he had engaged
in "insider trading." Sometime later this same stockbroker leaves

212 Cal.App.3d at 900:

the church and begins criticizing it and its leadership publicly.
To discredit this critic, the church discloses the stockbroker
has confessed he is an insider trader. This disclosure might be
said to advance the interests of the cleric's religion in the
sense it would tend to discourage former members from criticizing
the church. But to characterize this violation of religious
confidentiality as "religious expression" would distort the
meaning of the English language as well as the United States
Constitution. This same conclusion applies to Scientology's
disclosures of Wollersheim's confidences in the instant case.
And, since these disclosures do not qualify as "religious
expression" they do not qualify for protection under the freedom
of religion guaranties of the Constitution. (See Discussion at
pp. 887-889, supra.)

III. The Cause of Action for Negligent Infliction of
Emotional Injury Must Be Reversed.

For reasons set forth in section II, we have concluded
Scientology is not constitutionally immunized from civil
liability for its cumulative course of conduct to intentionally
inflict emotional injury on Wollersheim. However, this course
of conduct does not supply a suitable predicate for a cause of
action based on negligent infliction of emotional injury. These
actions are potentially actionable only when they are driven by
an animus which can properly qualify them as "outrageous
conduct." That is, they must be done for the purpose of
emotionally injuring the plaintiff, or at the least with reckless
disregard about their adverse impact on plaintiff's mental
health. (Nally v. Grace Community Church, supra, 47 Cal.3d 278,
300; Miller v. National Broadcasting Co. (1986) 187 Cal.App.3d
1463, 1487 [232 Cal.Rptr. 668, 69 A.L.R.4th 1027].)]

We have held in the prior section that Scientology and its
leaders indeed engaged in these actions with an intent to
emotionally injure Wollersheim. But this intentional activity
was alleged in the intentional infliction of emotional injury
count and was tried under that count. The negligence count, on
the other hand, of necessity alleges a lesser degree of
culpability and can be sustained only if the defendant could be
liable even if the emotional injuries were caused by completely
unintentional, merely negligent acts or omissions. (See
Slaughter v. Legal Process Courier Service (1984) 162 Cal.App.3d
1236, 1249 [209 Cal.Rptr. 189]; 6 Witkin, Summary of Cal.Law (9th
ed. 1988) Torts, @ 838, p. 195.)

In this context, Scientology is responsible only if it or
any other religion could be held liable where through
inadvertence something it or its leaders did damaged someone's
business and thereby caused the businessman emotional injury.
Or if it or any other religion could be held liable where it
inadvertently revealed some information a member had disclosed

212 Cal.App.3d at 901:

confidence as part of a religious practice like auditing or a
confession. Or if it or another religion could be held liable
where its functionaries inadvertently said something during
auditing or a sermon or a confession which triggered a listener's
nascent mental illness.

At bottom, this question of duty is a matter of weighing
competing public policy considerations. (Dillon v. Legg (1968)
68 Cal.2d 728, 734 [69 Cal.Rptr. 72, 441 P.2d 912, 29 A.L.R.3d
1316]; Ballard v. Uribe (1986) 41 Cal.3d 564, 572, fn. 6 [224
Cal.Rptr. 664, 715 P.2d 624].) n5 On balance, the religious
freedom consideration outweighs any concern about spreading the
cost of emotional injury, reducing the frequency of such
emotional injuries, and the like. It is one thing to say we will
impose liability when a religious organization intentionally or
recklessly sets out to ruin a business or to reveal confidential
information or to "audit" mercilessly or to "disconnect" a
psychologically weak person from his family and thereby succeeds
in emotionally injuring a member or former member of that
religion. It is quite another to impose liability for negligent
acts which inadvertently cause the same types of injuries. (See
Coon v. Joseph (1987) 192 Cal.App.3d 1269, 1273 [237 Cal.Rptr.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - Footnotes - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

n5 "'[D]uty' is not an immutable fact of nature "'but only
an expression of the sum total of those considerations of policy
which lead the law to say that the particular plaintiff is
entitled to protection."' [Citation.]" (Ballard v. Uribe, supra,
41 Cal.3d at p. 572, fn. 6.)

- - - - - - - - - - - - - End Footnotes - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Since we hold religious organizations owe no duty to members
or former members with respect to these forms of injury, the
cause of action for negligent infliction of emotional injury must
be reversed. We need not, however, reverse the entire judgment.

Here, the jury found the Church liable for both negligent
and intentional infliction of emotional distress. As we
discussed above, there is substantial evidence to support a
finding on the intentional infliction theory. We may fairly
presume any damages awarded on the negligence theory are subsumed
in the award for intentional infliction of emotional distress.
Accordingly, any error in allowing the jury to consider the
negligence theory does not affect the judgment. (See Vahey
v. Sacia (1981) 126 Cal.App.3d 171, 179-180 [178 Cal.Rptr. 559];
Bacciglieri v. Charles C. Meek Milling Co. (1959) 176 Cal.App.2d
822, 826 [1 Cal.Rptr. 706].)

IV. The Trial Court Properly Denied Appellant's Motions to
Dismiss for Failure to File Before the Statute of
Limitations Had Expired on Wollersheim's Causes of

Scientology argues on appeal, as it did at virtually every
opportunity below, that Wollersheim's causes of action are barred
by the statute of

212 Cal.App.3d at 902:

limitations. At each and every juncture the various trial judges
who heard these arguments rejected them. These judges ruled
correctly that Wollersheim's causes of action were subject to the
discovery rule. (3 Witkin, Cal. Procedure (3d ed. 1985) Actions,
@ 356, p. 383.) The issue in each instance, thus, was when
Wollersheim discovered, or should have discovered, all of the
elements of his cause of action against Scientology. (See Leaf
v. City of San Mateo (1980) 104 Cal.App.3d 398, 407-408 [163
Cal.Rptr. 711].) The trial judges properly ruled this issue, in
turn, was a jury question. (Id. at p. 409.)

On appeal, this court is bound to uphold the jury's
resolution of these factual questions unless we determine the
findings are not supported by substantial evidence. After a
careful review of the evidence, we conclude these findings about
the timeliness of Wollersheim's filing of this case are supported
by substantial evidence. Consequently, we affirm the rulings by
the judges below and, furthermore, we likewise affirm the factual
findings the jury impliedly made that Wollersheim did not
discover and should not have discovered his causes of action
until a time within the statutory period.

V. The Trial Court Did Not Commit Instructional Error or
Evidentiary Error During This Five-month Trial Which
Denied Appellant a Fair Trial or Due Process of Law.

Appellant's final contention is that it was denied a fair
trial and due process of law because of various instructional and
evidentiary rulings the court made during this five-month trial.
Considering the length of the trial it is surprising appellant
was able to identify so few questionable rulings.

Appellant first complains the trial court erroneously denied
two instructions it requested. The first of these instructions
restated the elements of the cause of action for intentional
infliction of emotional distress or outrageous conduct with a
slant favoring appellant's position.n6

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - Footnotes - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

n6 The requested instruction reads: "Plaintiff's claim for
intentional infliction of emotional distress, or outrageous
conduct, is divided into several parts. [para.] First,
plaintiff's claim that defendant engaged in outrageous conduct
by subjecting plaintiff to its practice of auditing -- which, as
I shall instruct you, is the central religious practice of the
religion of Scientology. [para.] Second, plaintiff claims that
defendant caused plaintiff to separate from his family and
friends as a condition for remaining in Scientology. [para.]
Third, plaintiff claims that defendant 'attacked plaintiff's
business' and induced those of his employees who were
Scientologists to leave his employ. [para.] Fourth, plaintiff
claims that defendant disclosed his auditing files in disregard
of alleged promises of confidentiality to persons not authorized
to receive them. [para.] All of these acts were allegedly
undertaken to inflict severe emotional distress upon the
plaintiff. [para.] The plaintiff is restricted in this case to
the claims he set forth in his complaint. Evidence of any
purported acts of the defendant not relating to the four
categories I have just described to you may not be considered in
determining whether plaintiff has established that defendant
committed the tort of intentional infliction of emotional

- - - - - - - - - - - - - End Footnotes - - - - - - - - - - - - -

212 Cal.App.3d at 903:

As requested the instruction implied the jury was to
disregard evidence of appellant's acts which did not fit
precisely under the courses of conduct as appellant defined them.
Actually the plaintiff's causes of action were broader in many
respects than the descriptions the appellant requested. Moreover,
some of the evidence introduced at the trial related to acts
relevant to issues of appellant's state of mind (intent,
motivation, and the like) and whether respondent was voluntarily
participating in Scientology's practices or was doing so within
a coercive environment. Accordingly, the instruction as
requested would have been misleading to the jury. The trial
court gave an instruction which set forth the elements of the
cause of action. Any amplification of that instruction should
have been more accurate than the one appellant requested and less
misleading as to the full scope of the jury's range of inquiry.
Thus it was not error to refuse to give this instruction.

Appellant also complains about the refusal of one of its
requested instructions ordering the jury in very specific fashion
to disregard evidence presented which was relevant to the
nonsuited fraud counts.

Again, the requested instruction was stated in overbroad
terms and unduly slanted in appellant's direction. For instance,
as requested, it instructed the jury that "it must disregard
evidence presented in this trial regarding statements purportedly
made to [the plaintiff] to induce his participation in defendant
church." If given, this instruction could have misled the jury
into believing it must disregard evidence which provided context
for the intentional infliction count or which went to the
presence or absence of coercion and appellant's state of mind.
So once again it was not error to refuse these instructions.
(See Wank v. Richman & Garrett (1985) 165 Cal.App.3d 1103, 1113
[211 Cal.Rptr. 919]; Lubek v. Lopes (1967) 254 Cal.App.2d 63, 73
[62 Cal.Rptr. 36].)

In any event, on reviewing the total evidence offered in
this trial, we find that even if it were error to refuse these
instructions that error was not prejudicial. (Henderson
v. Harnischfeger (1974) 12 Cal.3d 663, 670 [117 Cal.Rptr. 1, 527
P.2d 353]; Williams v. Carl Karcher Enterprises, Inc. (1986) 182
Cal.App.3d 479, 489 [227 Cal.Rptr. 465]; see 9 Witkin, Cal.
Procedure, supra, Appeal, @ 352, pp. 355-356.) We cannot say that
the giving of these instructions would have substantially
enhanced the chances appellant would have prevailed.

Appellant likewise complains about evidentiary rulings.
Although it mentions only a handful of specific incidents, it
accuses the judge of admitting a mass of prejudicial evidence
about actions Scientology took toward third

212 Cal.App.3d at 904:

persons. In its brief appellant concedes this evidence was
admissible under Evidence Code section 1101, subdivision (b) as
proof of "intent" and "malice." n7 But it asks us to reverse the
trial court under Evidence Code section 352 on grounds the
relevance of this evidence was overwhelmed by its prejudicial

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - Footnotes - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

n7 "Nothing in this section prohibits the admission of
evidence that a person committed a crime, civil wrong, or other
act when relevant to prove some fact (such as motive,
opportunity, intent, preparation, plan, knowledge, identity,
absence of mistake or accident or whether a defendant in a
prosecution for an unlawful sexual act or attempted unlawful
sexual act did not reasonably and in good faith believe that the
victim consented) other than his or her disposition to commit
such an act." (Evid. Code, @ 1101, subd. (b).)

n8 "The court in its discretion may exclude evidence if its
probative value is substantially outweighed by the probability
that its admission will (a) necessitate undue consumption of time
or (b) create substantial danger of undue prejudice, of confusing
the issues, or of misleading the jury." (Evid. Code, @ 352,
italics added.)

- - - - - - - - - - - - - End Footnotes - - - - - - - - - - - - -

In reviewing the trial court's exercise of its discretion
under section 352, appellate courts traditionally give great
deference to the trial court's evaluation of relevance versus
prejudice. (See People v. Mota (1981) 115 Cal.App.3d 227, 234
[171 Cal.Rptr. 212]; 1 Johnson, Cal. Trial Guide (1988) @ 22.40,
p. 22-43.) In the instant case we do not find an abuse of
discretion. Much of the evidence appellant objects to was highly
relevant to show the network of sanctions and coercive influences
with which Scientology had surrounded Wollersheim. Much of the
rest was highly relevant to show Wollersheim's state of mind
while undergoing audit, disconnect and the like or appellant's
state of mind, that is, its intent, malice, motives, and the
like. Whatever prejudice to appellant may have accompanied
introduction of this evidence it does not "substantially
outweigh" the probative value of the evidence to important issues
in this case.

Finally, appellant complains about the alleged prejudicial
conduct of Wollersheim's counsel during the trial and closing
argument. As was true of its claims of instructional and
evidentiary evidence, appellant provides us with only a few
examples of alleged prejudicial error and imply these are but the
tip of the iceberg. It confines itself to this handful of
incidents either because no other potentially prejudicial
incidents occurred or because it expects this court to do its job
by scouring the 25,000-page record for other examples to bolster
its claim of error. If what appellant sets forth in its brief
represent the only incidents it alleges as prejudicial conduct,
we find them insufficient to justify reversal under applicable
standards of prejudice. (Garden Grove School Dist. v. Hendler
(1965) 63 Cal.2d 141, 144 [45 Cal.Rptr. 313, 403 P.2d 721]
[attorney misconduct only requires reversal if "it is reasonable
to conclude that a verdict more favorable to defendants would
have been reached but for the error"]; see 9 Witkin, Cal.
Procedure, supra, @ 340, p. 346.) And if these brief examples
were only an invitation to do

212 Cal.App.3d at 905:

appellant's work in identifying prejudicial error in its opposing
attorney's conduct, we decline that invitation. (Horowitz
v. Noble (1978) 79 Cal.App.3d 120, 139 [144 Cal.Rptr. 710] ["'The
reviewing court is not required to make an independent,
unassisted study of the record in search of error or grounds to
support the judgment'"]; Wint v. Fidelity & Casualty Co. (1973)
9 Cal.3d 257, 265 [107 Cal.Rptr. 175, 507 P.2d 1383, 90 A.L.R.3d

VI. The General Damages and Punitive Damages the Jury
Awarded Are Excessive for the Intentional Infliction
of Emotional Injury Count and Thus Those Damage Awards
Must Be Reduced.

In the previous section, we concluded the allegations which
are supported by substantial evidence are enough to sustain a
cause of action for intentional infliction of emotional injury
against Scientology. But that conclusion does not determine
whether the proved allegations support the level of damages the
jury awarded under this cause of action. We turn to that issue

We are only concerned now with whether a reasonable juror
could have found this level of "outrageous" conduct inflicted $ 5
million worth of emotional injury on Wollersheim. Similarly, we
ask whether this level of "outrageous" conduct and Scientology's
degree of intent in carrying it out warrant $ 25 million in
punitive damages. We conclude these awards are excessive for the
conduct alleged and proved in this case.

An award for compensatory damages will be reversed or
reduced "upon a showing that it is so grossly disproportionate
to any reasonable view of the evidence as to raise a strong
presumption that it is based upon prejudice or passion." (Koyer
v. McComber (1938) 12 Cal.2d 175, 182 [82 P.2d 941]; accord
Schroeder v. Auto Driveaway Co. (1974) 11 Cal.3d 908, 919 [114
Cal.Rptr. 622, 523 P.2d 662] ["an appellate court may reverse an
award only '"When the award as a matter of law appears excessive,
or where the recovery is so grossly disproportionate as to raise
a presumption that it is the result of passion or prejudice"'
[Citations]"]; Fagerquist v. Western Sun Aviation, Inc. (1987)
191 Cal.App.3d 709, 727 [236 Cal.Rptr. 633]; see 8 Witkin, Cal.
Procedure, supra, Attack on Judgment in Trial Court, @ 46, p.
446.) Even under this stringent standard, it is manifest the
jury's award here is excessive since it is so grossly
disproportionate to the evidence concerning Wollersheim's

Wollersheim's psychological injury although permanent and
severe is not totally disabling. Moreover, even Wollersheim
admits Scientology's conduct

212 Cal.App.3d at 906:

only aggravated a preexisting psychological condition;
Scientology did not create the condition. While the jury awarded
Wollersheim $ 5 million in compensatory damages, we determine the
evidence only justifies an award of $500,000.

"It is well established that a reviewing court should
examine punitive damages and, where appropriate, modify the
amount in order to do justice." (Gerard v. Ross (1988) 204
Cal.App.3d 968, 980 [251 Cal.Rptr. 604]; Allard v. Church of
Scientology, supra, 58 Cal.App.3d at p. 453.) In reviewing a
punitive damages award, the appellate court applies a standard
similar to that used in reviewing compensatory damages, i.e.,
whether, after reviewing the entire record in the light most
favorable to the judgment, the award was the result of passion
or prejudice. (See Bertero v. National General Corp. (1974) 13
Cal.3d 43, 64 [118 Cal.Rptr. 184, 529 P.2d 608, 65 A.L.R.3d 878];
Devlin v. Kearny Mesa AMC/Jeep/Renault, Inc. (1984) 155
Cal.App.3d 381, 388 [202 Cal.Rptr. 204].) However, the test here
is somewhat more refined, employing three factors to evaluate the
propriety of the award.

The first factor is the degree of reprehensibility of the
defendant's conduct. (Neal v. Farmers Ins. Exchange (1978) 21
Cal.3d 910, 928 [148 Cal.Rptr. 389, 582 P.2d 980].) "[C]learly,
different acts may be of varying degrees of reprehensibility, and
the more reprehensible the act, the greater the appropriate
punishment, assuming all other factors are equal." (Ibid.)

The second factor is the relationship between the amount of
the award and the actual harm suffered. (Neal v. Farmers Ins.
Exchange, supra, 21 Cal.3d at p. 928; Seeley v. Seymour (1987)
190 Cal.App.3d 844, 867 [237 Cal.Rptr. 282].) This analysis
focuses upon the ratio of compensatory damages to punitive
damages; the greater the disparity between the two awards, the
more likely the punitive damages award is suspect. (Seeley
v. Seymour, supra, 190 Cal.App.3d at p. 867; see Little
v. Stuyvesant Life Ins. Co. (1977) 67 Cal.App.3d 451, 469-470
[136 Cal.Rptr. 653].)

Finally, a reviewing court will consider the relationship
of the punitive damages to the defendant's net worth. (Neal
v. Farmers Ins. Exchange, supra, 21 Cal.3d at p. 928; Devlin
v. Kearny Mesa AMC/Jeep Renault, Inc., supra, 155 Cal.App.3d at
p. 390.) In applying this factor courts must strike a proper
balance between inadequate and excessive punitive damage awards.
"While the function of punitive damages will not be served if the
wealth of the defendant allows him to absorb the award with
little or no discomfort, the function also will not be served by
an award which is larger than necessary to properly punish and
deter." (Devlin v. Kearny Mesa AMC/Jeep/Renault, Inc., supra, 155
Cal.App.3d at p. 391.)

212 Cal.App.3d at 907:

As to the punitive damage award, we find it is not
commensurate with Scientology's conduct in this case. This is
not a situation where the centerpiece of the case involved a
Church-ordered physical beating or theft or criminal fraud
against Wollersheim. The "outrageous conduct" was less
outrageous and more subtle than that. We further note
Wollersheim's counsel in the full flood of his emotional
summation at the conclusion of this lengthy trial only deigned
to urge the jury to return punitive damages of as much as
"six or seven million dollars."

The evidence admitted at trial supported the finding the
appellant church had a net worth of $ 16 million at the time of
trial. Accepting these figures as true, the jury awarded
Wollersheim 150 percent of appellant's net worth in punitive
damages alone -- 195 percent if compensatory damages are
included. This ratio is well outside the permissible range
established in other appellate cases. (Seeley v. Seymour, supra,
190 Cal.App.3d at p. 869 [punitive damages reversed; award was
200 percent of defendant's net worth]; Burnett v. National
Enquirer, Inc. (1983) 144 Cal.App.3d 991, 1012 [193 Cal.Rptr.
206, 49 A.L.R.4th 1125] [punitive damages reduced; initial award
was 35 percent of defendant's net worth]; Egan v. Mutual of Omaha
Insurance Co. (1979) 24 Cal.3d 809, 824 [169 Cal.Rptr. 691, 620
P.2d 141] [punitive damages reversed; award was 58 percent of
defendant's net income]; Allard v. Church of Scientology, supra,
58 Cal.App.3d at pp. 445-446, 453 [punitive damages reversed;
award was 40 percent of defendant's net worth]; compare Devlin
v. Kearny AMC/Jeep/Renault, Inc., supra, 155 Cal.App.3d at pp.
391-392 [punitive damages affirmed where award was 17.5 percent
of defendant's net worth]; Schomer v. Smidt (1980) 113 Cal.App.3d
828, 836-837 [170 Cal.Rptr. 662] [punitive damages affirmed;
award was 10 percent of defendant's net worth]; Downey Savings
& Loan Assn. v. Ohio Casualty Ins. Co. (1987) 189 Cal.App.3d
1072, 1100 [234 Cal.Rptr. 835] [punitive damages affirmed; award
was 7.2 percent of defendant's net income].) Respondent asserts
appellant's true net worth approaches $ 250 million not $ 16
million and thus the punitive damage award is not excessive.
However, respondent failed to prove the higher net worth figure
at trial. Accordingly we reduce the punitive damage award to
$ 2 million.

The judgment is reversed as to the cause of action for
negligent infliction of emotional injury. The judgment as to the
cause of action for intentional infliction of emotional injury
is modified to reduce the compensatory damages to $ 500,000 and
the punitive damages to $ 2 million. In all other

212 Cal.App.3d at 908:

respects the judgment is affirmed. Each party to bear its own
costs on appeal.