NOTICE: Ninth Circuit Rule 36-3 provides that dispositions other
than opinions or orders designated for publication are not
precedential and should not be cited except when relevant under the
doctrines of law of the case, res judicata, or collateral estoppel.
(The decision of the Court is referenced in a "Table of Decisions
Without Reported Opinions" appearing in the Federal Reporter.)
Vicki J. AZNARAN, Richard N. Aznaran, Plaintiffs-counter-defendants-Appellees,
CHURCH OF SCIENTOLOGY OF CALIFORNIA, INC., Defendant,
Church of Spiritual Technology, Inc., Religious Technology Center, Inc., Author
Services, Inc., Church of Scientology International, Inc., Defendants-counter-
United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit.
Argued and Submitted May 8, 1991.
Decided July 11, 1991.
Appeal from the United States District Court for the Central District of
California, No. CV-88-1786-JMI; James M. Ideman, District Judge, Presiding.
Before TANG, REINHARDT and WIGGINS, Circuit Judges.
**1 Vicki and Richard Aznaran are former high-ranking members of the Church
of Scientology ("Scientology"). They left the church under circumstances that
they describe as involving duress. They filed a complaint against Scientology
alleging false imprisonment, intentional infliction of emotional distress and
other tortious conduct. Scientology brought a motion for summary judgment
alleging that the Aznarans had signed releases relieving Scientology of any
further liability when they left Scientology. The district court denied that
motion and a subsequent motion for reconsideration on the basis that there were
factual questions as to the validity of the releases.
Scientology then brought the instant motion for a preliminary injunction to
prohibit: (1) the continuation of this lawsuit; (2) dissemination of
information about the workings of Scientology; and (3) voluntary assistance of
the Aznarans to third parties contemplating litigation against Scientology.
Scientology argued that various provisions of the releases entitled it to this
relief. The district court declined to grant the preliminary injunction.
Scientology appealed. We affirm.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
" 'Review of a ruling on a motion for a preliminary injunction is "very
limited" ' ". Diamontiney v. Borg, 918 F.2d 793, 795 (9th
Cir.1990) (quoting Oakland Tribune, Inc. v. Chronicle Publishing Co., 762
F.2d 1374, 1376 (9th Cir.1985)). "A grant of a preliminary injunction will be
reversed only where the district court abused its discretion or based its
decision on an erroneous legal standard or clearly erroneous factual
findings." Diamontiney, 918 F.2d at 795.
We first address Scientology's contention that the district court should have
preliminarily enjoined the litigation. Although the parties have raised a
number of issues regarding the first amendment's protection of the free
exercise of religion and its prohibition against the establishment of religion,
as well as issues relating to the enforceability of the waiver, there is a
basic flaw in Scientology's position which makes it unnecessary for us to reach
these issues. A preliminary injunction is temporary relief. If granted, it
remains in effect only until the district court renders judgment on the merits
of the case after trial. Sports Form, Inc. v. United Press Int'l, 686 F.2d
750, 753 (9th Cir.1982). Here, however, Scientology seeks to enjoin the case
from proceeding to trial. If such relief were granted it would necessarily be
permanent relief because it would remain in effect until the trial is
completed--and of course the trial could never be completed because it would be
enjoined from ever taking place. Since Scientology has not demonstrated that
it is entitled to permanent relief, the district court did not err by denying
its motion to enjoin the litigation. [FN1]
We next address Scientology's claim that it was entitled to a preliminary
injunction enforcing the confidentiality and non-assistance provisions of the
releases. "At a minimum, a [party] seeking preliminary injunctive relief must
demonstrate that it will be exposed to irreparable harm." Caribbean Marine
Servs. Co. v. Baldridge, 844 F.2d 668, 674 (1988); see also Los Angeles
Memorial Coliseum Comm'n, 634 F.2d 1197, 1203 (9th Cir.1980).
**2 Scientology argues that in the absence of a preliminary injunction
enforcing the confidentiality and non-assistance provisions of the releases,
there is a possibility that it will suffer irreparable injury. However, the
releases which it prepared provide liquidated damages for violation of these
provisions. Thus, under the agreement it drafted, any injury that would result
from a breach would be compensable. Purely monetary injuries are not
considered irreparable. See Lydo Enterprises, Inc. v. City of Las Vegas,
745 F.2d 1211, 1213 (9th Cir.1984); Sampson v. Murray, 415 U.S. 61, 90
(1974) (" 'Mere injuries, however substantial, in terms of money, time and
energy necessarily expended ... are not enough' " to constitute irreparable
injury) (quoting Virginia Petroleum Jobbers Ass'n v. Federal Power Comm'n,
259 F.2d 921, 925 (D.C.Cir.1958)).
Nonetheless, according to Scientology, the Aznarans are judgment-proof, and as
a result will be unable to provide monetary compensation for a breach. Thus,
Scientology argues, this case provides an exception to the general rule that
injuries which are compensable in money are not irreparable. We note initially
that even if the Aznarans were judgment-proof, that would not necessarily
entitle Scientology to relief in this case, at least in the absence of some
showing that their financial status had changed since the waivers were prepared
and signed. Scientology was apparently aware of the Aznarans' financial
situation when it agreed to the liquidated damages clauses in the waivers it
drafted and now invokes.
Moreover, the district court made a factual finding that the Aznarans are not
judgment-proof. Scientology contests this finding by pointing out that the
Aznarans could not afford to hire an attorney. However, that is not
necessarily inconsistent with their ability to pay whatever judgment might
ultimately be rendered against them. The finding that the Aznarans are not
judgment-proof is not clearly erroneous, and the determination that Scientology
has not met its burden with respect to the irreparable harm issue was not an
abuse of discretion.
Finally, the Aznarans argue that we should impose sanctions against
Scientology because this appeal is frivolous. Fed.R.App.P. 38. Scientology
has presented many strong arguments. While these arguments were unsuccessful,
they are not frivolous. The request for sanctions is denied.
The judgment of the district court is
FN* This disposition is not appropriate for publication and may not be
cited to or by the courts of this circuit except as provided by 9th Cir.R.
FN1. We do not suggest that such relief could in any event be obtained
through the vehicle of a preliminary injunction. The appropriate procedure
for terminating litigation before trial is a summary judgment motion.
Scientology brought such a motion but the district court denied it, and
subsequently denied Scientology's motion for reconsideration of its
decision. Neither the original decision nor the denial of the
reconsideration motion may be reviewed on an interlocutory appeal.