Catafago Fini LLP scored a major victory in the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, in a case captioned Zhang Jingrong, et al. v. Chinese Anti-Cult World Alliance Inc., et al., 18-2626 (2d Cir. October 14, 2021). In this major appellate ruling, the Firm won dismissal of federal claims brought by Falun Gong practitioners.
The case involved Falun Gong practitioners who asserted claims under The Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act of 1994 (“FACEA”), which prohibits a person from intentionally injuring, intimidating, or interfering with another who is exercising her religion “at a place of religious worship.” 18 U.S.C. § 248(a)(2). The Falun Gong practitioners, the plaintiffs in the case, passed out flyers and displayed posters, primarily protesting the Chinese Communist Party’s treatment of Falun Gong, at sidewalk tables in Flushing, Queens, New York. The plaintiffs claimed that the defendants had harassed them in the vicinity of these tables, which the plaintiffs argued were “a place of religious worship” — in violation of FACEA.
After the parties filed cross-motions for summary judgment, the district court determined that the sidewalk tables were “a place of religious worship” as a matter of law. On appeal, Catafago Fini LLP successfully argued before the Second Circuit that the Falun Gong tables were not “a place of religious worship.”
“We successfully argued that the Falun Gong Plaintiffs used the tables primarily as a base for protesting the Chinese government’s supposed abuses against Falun Gong, rather than for religious worship,” said Tom M. Fini, the lead attorney for the defendants. “The Second Circuit’s decision is groundbreaking because it is the first federal appellate decision to have laid out the standards determining what can truly be considered ‘a place of religious worship’ under FACEA.”
As a result of this appellate victory, the Second Circuit ordered that the Falun Gong Plaintiffs’ federal claims be dismissed in their entirety.