General Recap & Update of Current Cases — September 2018

CASES TO WATCH

Planned Parenthood v. Center for Medical Progress, et al. (Calif.)—In January 2016, Planned Parenthood Federation of America and a number of PP affiliates sued David Daleiden and several of his fellow investigators for the express purpose of punishing them for their investigative work which exposed PP’s role in the sale of baby parts for profit. PP is claiming over $10 million in actual damages and seeking treble damages for alleged “racketeering” (RICO), as well as punitive damages and attorney fees. The abortion giant is represented by Arnold & Porter, one of the largest law firms in the United States. Daleiden and his co-defendants’ motions to dismiss and anti-SLAPP motion were denied by federal judge William Orrick. The denial of the anti-SLAPP motion was unsuccessfully appealed to the Ninth Circuit. CMP filed a motion to disqualify Judge William Orrick, who has ties to a San Francisco organization that houses a Planned Parenthood clinic. The motion was denied, so the matter is proceeding before Judge Orrick. The most recent discovery hearing was on July 19, 2018, during which Life Legal sought to determine the extent to which Planned Parenthood violated the federal fetal tissue trafficking statute. The court asked for further evidence concerning the legality of Planned Parenthood’s fetal tissue practices.

California v. Daleiden et al. (Calif.)—California Attorney General Xavier Becerra charged Daleiden and his Center for Medical Progress colleague Sandra Merritt with fourteen counts of felony eavesdropping and one count of conspiracy to eavesdrop. California’s eavesdropping statute expressly exempts conversations during which there is no expectation of confidentiality, including those recorded at public events. The conversations for which Daleiden and Merritt are being charged occurred either in crowded restaurants or in the exhibit hall at a hotel in the midst of a large conference. A preliminary hearing is set for September 10 – 19, in San Francisco Superior Court.

Planned Parenthood v. MMB Properties (Kissimmee, Fla.)—Planned Parenthood purchased and occupied property at Oak Commons in Kissimmee in April of 2014. When it became clear that PP was going to perform abortions, a cardiology practice operated by MMB Properties, which also had an office at Oak Commons, sued to enforce a restrictive covenant that forbade “outpatient surgical centers” at the site. Planned Parenthood lost when the Fifth District Court of Appeals for the State of Florida upheld the trial court’s preliminary injunction prohibiting the abortion giant from running a baby-killing mill at Oak Commons. Planned Parenthood appealed the decision by the Fifth District Court of Appeals to the Florida Supreme Court. Oral arguments were heard on August 31, 2016. On February 23, 2018, the Court dissolved the temporary restraining order, but agreed with the lower court’s construction of the terms of the covenant. The case is back before the trial court for permanent injunction proceedings consistent with the Supreme Court’s opinion.

Ahn v. Hestrin (Calif.)— Proponents of physician-assisted suicide, unsuccessful for twenty years in passing legislation during regular sessions, took advantage of an abbreviated review process in an extraordinary legislative session, called to address Medi-Cal funding shortfalls to push through passage of the End of Life Option Act. California Governor Jerry Brown signed the bill, making California the fourth—and by far the largest—state to decriminalize physician-assisted suicide, permitting physicians to prescribe lethal drugs (so-called “aid-in-dying drugs”) to individuals believed to have a terminal disease. Life Legal filed a challenge in June 2016 on behalf of six doctors and the American Academy of Medical Ethics asserting that the Act was passed in violation of California’s constitution and that the Act removes crucial legal protections from sick and vulnerable patients that are enjoyed by other Californians. On May 25, 2018, Judge Daniel Ottolia ruled in favor of Life Legal and struck down the End of Life Option Act as unconstitutional. Attorney General Xavier Becerra and the George Soros funded pro-suicide group “Compassion and Choices” appealed and were granted a stay temporarily reinstating the Act. [See article on p. xx]

Two Rivers School v. Darnel et al. (Washington, D.C.)— Pro-life advocates protested the construction of a Planned Parenthood megacenter adjacent to a middle school in Washington, D.C. The school district sued and obtained a preliminary injunction. Life Legal, representing the lead plaintiff in the case, appealed the decision to the D.C. Court of Appeals. The next hearing is scheduled for December 2018.

Passmore v. 21st Century Oncology (Fla.)—Two employees at an oncology clinic in Florida were terminated after one of them posted a video of an emergency at an abortion clinic in their complex. Although other employees observed the emergency, only the Christian, pro-life employees were fired. The employees filed a federal employment discrimination suit. Trial back on track after plaintiffs were granted a relief from stay after employer filed for bankruptcy.

McKitty v. Hayani (Canada)—Life Legal is assisting in the Canadian case of twenty-seven-year-old Taquisha McKitty, who was declared brain dead in September 2017, but has since been exhibiting movements and responses incompatible with brain failure. Taquisha’s parents filed suit to keep their daughter on life support, as they believe death is not determined solely on the basis of neurological criteria. In late June, an Ontario judge ruled to allow the hospital to withdraw life support. Taquisha’s family is planning to appeal the ruling.

Stinson/Fonseca (Calif.)—Life Legal continues our challenge to California’s brain death statute in federal court. The statute does not provide due process for family members who seek a second, independent medical opinion after their loved one has suffered a serious brain injury. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of the parents of Israel Stinson, whose two-year-old son was declared brain dead by a California hospital but was subsequently found to have active brain waves. Israel Stinson died after being forcibly removed from life support in August, 2016. The hospital and state then sought to have the case dismissed, claiming the toddler’s death rendered the case moot as there were no further damages. Life Legal subsequently joined the case as a co-plaintiff. Case is on appeal to the Ninth Circuit.

People v. Handy, et al. (Alexandria, Va.)—Life Legal represented three defendants facing criminal charges resulting from a “Red Rose Rescue,” during which they entered a Virginia abortion mill to give women a red rose and information about abortion alternatives. The defendants were found guilty. A Life Legal attorney filed a notice of appeal on behalf of one of the defendants.

People v. Imbarrato, et al. (Washington, D.C.)—Red Rose Rescue case involving Father Stephen Imbarrato of Priests for Life and two other defendants who were convicted of trespassing when they entered an abortion mill associated with the notorious late-term abortionist Stephen Brigham. The rescuers attempted to warn women about Brigham’s dangerous practices, which have resulted in severe injuries to his patients and led numerous medical boards to charge him with gross negligence. Father Imbarrato served five days in jail when he refused the judge’s probation terms that prohibited him from returning to Brigham’s facility for one year. The other two defendants were sentenced on July 24, 2018. Life Legal is planning to file a notice of appeal on behalf of one of the defendants.

Cases Resolved:

Kline v. Biles (Kan.)—Former Kansas Attorney General was accused by Planned Parenthood and pro-abortion public officials of violating state ethics rules while investigating Kansas abortion providers, including notorious late-term abortionist George Tiller, as well as others who failed to report cases of child rape. Kline’s license to practice law was suspended indefinitely by the Kansas Supreme Court in 2013—however, five of the seven justices had to recuse themselves because of conflicts. Kline filed a motion in federal court to challenge what he calls a void judgment by an “unlawfully constituted” court. The motion was dismissed and Kline appealed to the Tenth Circuit, which affirmed the lower court’s ruling in July 2017. The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear Kline’s appeal in December 2017.

Diss v. Portland Public Schools (Ore.)—Civil complaint for unlawful termination and religious discrimination. Bill Diss, a teacher at a Portland, Oregon high school, had his teaching contract terminated following his request for a religious accommodation to excuse his participation in a school program administered by Planned Parenthood. Following his request for accommodation, Diss was subjected to harassment and retaliation by school administrators throughout the school year, which culminated in the termination of his employment. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals denied appeal of summary judgment.

In re Estate of T.L. and In re the Matter of M.H. (Penn. and Wis.)—Two very similar cases in different parts of the country involving women in their thirties who were placed in hospice care to be starved to death only days after suffering temporary lack of oxygen to the brain. Neither woman was married, but each had a fiancé who called Life Legal for help. In both cases, Life Legal attorneys went to court to get the women returned to the hospital to receive nutrition. One was starved for ten days and the other for thirty-four days. Just weeks later, both women started talking and walking, and both are well on their way to a full recovery. MH is consulting with her Life Legal attorneys to evaluate a malpractice action against the hospital/hospice.

In re Joe Williams (Calif.)—Case involving the father of two small children who suffered a brain injury in May 2015. Joe’s wife decided in December that she wanted to take him home to die, i.e., without nutrition or hydration. Life Legal was contacted by Joe’s sister (through Bobby Schindler). Tragically, Joe’s condition became unstable due to lack of fluids and he passed away in June 2017.

Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission (Colo.)—The Masterpiece case involves a baker who was asked to create a cake for the wedding of a same-sex couple. The baker, Jack Phillips, said he could not use his artistic talents to give approval to a marriage that violated his religious beliefs. In response, the Colorado Civil Rights Commission said Phillips’ religious beliefs were illegal and prohibited him from designing any wedding cakes, which resulted in the loss of 40% of his business. The Commission imposed draconian reporting requirements on Phillips, forcing him to provide a detailed account of the reasons for any orders he declines. Life Legal filed an amicus brief in support of the baker because this case is likely to have rapid and lasting impact on the rights of medical professionals to practice their professions consistently with their consciences and the teachings of their faiths on issues of life and death—or indeed to practice their professions at all. Victory!

National Institute of Family and Life Advocates (NIFLA) v. Becerra (Calif.)—On March 20, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in a case involving a challenge to a California law that (1) forces medically-licensed pregnancy resource centers to tell their clients how to obtain a state-funded abortion, and (2) forces non-medical centers to post large signs saying that they are not medical centers. Life Legal filed an amicus brief with the Supreme Court on behalf of Priests for Life and the Justice Foundation addressing the draconian disclosure mandate for non-medical pregnancy centers. Victory!

40 Days for Life San Francisco (People v. McCormick)— Violent pro-abort attacks pro-life advocate outside Planned Parenthood San Francisco then lies to the police and claims sidewalk counselor hit her. Police issued a citation to the peaceful life advocate, but formal charges have not been filed yet. Life Legal attorneys contacted the District Attorney’s office to get the case rejected and no formal charges were filed.

Author: Life Legal

The Life Legal Defense Foundation is a non-profit law firm that specializes in the defense of vulnerable human life, especially life in the womb.

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