CASES TO WATCH
Planned Parenthood v. Daleiden 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. Discovery is proceeding. 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. Life Legal filed a motion for summary judgment attacking the RICO and fraud claims that are at the heart of the lawsuit. The motion will be heard on January 16, 2019.
California v. Daleiden and Merritt (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. Hearing is set for February 2019 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. Depositions in process. Summary judgment motion filed in December 2018.
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. California’s Fourth District Court of Appeals denied the petition finding that Life Legal’s plaintiffs lack standing. A petition for review has been filed in the California Supreme Court.
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.
Commissioner of the Indiana State Department of Health, et al. v. Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky, Inc.(Ind.)—Life Legal filed an amicus brief in the U.S. Supreme Court, on behalf of former abortion provider Beverly McMillan, urging the Court to reverse a Seventh Circuit decision striking down an Indiana law requiring medical facilities to dispose of fetal remains in the same manner as other human remains, i.e., by burial or cremation, Life Legal argued that the law furthers the significant government interest in promoting the integrity of the medical profession. See article on page XX.
Hunt v. New Mexico School of Medicine—Medical Student’s off campus comments made to the general public resulted in expulsion. Life Legal has filed an amicus brief in defense of free speech concerns.
Gunnoe v. Holmes et al.—Life Legal represented the fiancé of 27-year-old Holly O’Donnell, a former tissue procurement technician for StemExpress who turned whistleblower to expose the company’s illegal profiteering on fetal tissue. Holly’s riveting eyewitness testimony about how fetal tissue was obtained in Planned Parenthood clinics was featured in several of the Center for Medical Progress videos. Holly suffered a heart attack on August 28, causing temporary loss of oxygen to her brain. After being placed on a ventilator, she showed signs of recovery (opening her eyes, trying to move her upper body, etc.), but her parents, with whom she had a strained relationship, indicated that they would take her off of life support within days. Life Legal filed an emergency TRO petition on behalf of Holly’s fiancé, Paul Gunnoe. The judge issued an order requiring the parents and hospital to only take action that would prolong Holly’s life. Holly received a feeding tube and breathing tube. The court appointed the public defender as Holly’s guardian. At a subsequent status update hearing, the judge changed the order to permit the parents to remove Holly’s life support, which they did a week later without notifying Paul or the court-appointed guardian. Holly died on September 30.
Alabama Department of Public Health Writ of Mandamus (Ala.)—A Writ of Mandamus filed against the Alabama Department of Public Health (“ADPH”) seeking an order to revoke the abortion license ADPH issued to Planned Parenthood Birmingham and seeking a further order to regularly and consistently inspect all abortion clinics in the state of Alabama and ensure correction of any deficiencies reported by the ADPH.
State of Florida vs. McCulfor (Fla.)—At University of Tallahassee a woman destroyed signs and accused pro-lifer of battery at pro-life Created Equal event. Jury trial February 6, 2019.