CASES TO WATCH
Planned Parenthood v. Daleiden et al. (CA)—In January 2016, Planned Parenthood Federation of America and nine PP affiliates sued David Daleiden, fellow investigators, and the Center for Medical Progress (CMP) in federal court, for the express purpose of punishing them for their investigative work exposing PP’s role in the sale of baby parts. Life Legal represents former CMP board member Albin Rhomberg. Three years of written discovery, depositions, and expert witness discovery succeeded in paring down Planned Parenthood’s claimed damages by over ninety-five percent.
After a six-week trial, the jury found for the plaintiffs on most of the remaining claims and awarded punitive damages. With RICO damages trebled, the total verdict was over $2,000,000. The court also later awarded PP about $14,000,000 in attorney fees and costs. On October 21, 2022, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld most of the damages awards. On May 30, we and the three other co-defendants filed petitions for certiorari in the US Supreme Court.
Seven amicus briefs were filed in support of one or more of the petitions. We expect that the petitions will be considered at the September 26 “mega-conference” when the Court re-convenes in the fall.
Daleiden and his colleague Susan Merritt are also facing criminal charges arising from their investigatory work. After a three-week preliminary hearing in San Francisco, eight of the sixteen felony criminal charges remain against Merritt and ten charges against Daleiden remain. Trial anticipated for late 2023 or early 2024.
Bakersfield Pregnancy Center v. California Department of Managed Health Care: We filed a lawsuit to enjoin a California law, SB 245, that prohibits insurance companies from charging any out-of-pocket medical costs for abortion, but not for pregnancy care and childbirth.
Our clients initially were four pregnancy resources centers. The claims are brought under the California right to privacy and right to equal protection. The preliminary injunction was denied, primarily for lack of standing. We filed an amended complaint adding two obstetricians and taxpayer as plaintiffs. The doctors asserted standing both as taxpayers and on behalf of their patients. Defendants demurred to the complaint.
GOOD NEWS! On May 8, the court overruled the demurrer at to both constitutional claims. In particular, as to the equal protection claim, the court held that 1) “it appears that strict scrutiny review applies,” and 2) even under rational basis review, the state has failed to show a rational basis. The ruling was ambiguous as to the third-party standing of the doctors; that may need to be cleared up before the case proceeds. We filed an amended complaint and the state answered the complaint. We have propounded discovery, but the case is largely law-driven.
People v. Hurley (San Francisco, CA) —Pro-lifer was arrested for trespass for entering a Women’s Option Clinic at Zuckerburg Hospital on the campus of UCSF. Additional charges were added in May and court issued arrest warrant. Hurley turned himself in on May 16 and was released on OR on May 18 pending pretrial hearing on June 13, 2022.
Charges against Hurley include trespass for entering the abortion mill at UCSF Zuckerberg Hospital and two counts of stalking after pro-lifers pled with the abortionist to stop killing babies and posted leaflets about her abortion activities near her neighborhood. In addition, the UCSF Regents filed a civil motion seeking a TRO against Hurley.
Civil: PI hearing set for 9/18 to be continued until after criminal matter is resolved; Criminal: arraignment set for 08/23/23.
U.S. v. Jay Smith, Geraghty, et al (Washington, DC) —Ten pro-lifers were arrested by federal agents on FACE Act and conspiracy charges in connection with a rescue at Washington Surgi-Clinic, which is run by notorious late-term abortionist Cesare Santangelo. Initial appearances were set for early April 2022. Smith was referred to a DC attorney and is planning to enter a plea agreement on March 1.
Life Legal attorney represents Geraghty who was not intending to trespass or block. She was not initially charged but was added only after she refused to testify against the others. Trial is scheduled for August 2023. The presiding judge asked for briefing on whether the 13th Amendment confers a right to abortion.
carafem [sic] v. Hurley (Nashville, TN) —Abortion clinic carafem [sic] and Planned Parenthood sued about 10 pro-lifers for alleged violation of Tennessee’s FACE Act. The district court issued a preliminary injunction and found that the clinic was likely to succeed on merits of FACE violation, based on a 5-minute conversation that some pro-lifers had with security guards while standing near the building entrance.
We filed a motion to dismiss for one defendant (Hurley) on the grounds that standing to bring civil actions for obstruction and intimidation under FACE is limited to the persons obstructed or intimidated, not the facilities.
We also have vigorously pursued discovery and plaintiff is now considering a settlement offer. In the meantime, the clinic in Tennessee closed, but the plaintiff is insisting that the preliminary injunction just needs to be modified, not dissolved. The Sixth Circuit appeal will now decide only whether the PI is in whole or in part moot and should be vacated. It almost certainly will not decide whether there was any FACE violation to begin with.
People of the State of New York v. Red Rose Rescue, et al. (New York) Laura Gies charged under Federal and State FACE act. The complaint is based on a “Red Rose Rescue” that Laura and a few others carried out last year. The strategy of Red Rose Rescues is specifically to avoid violating FACE by no using force, threat or force, or physical obstruction. Basically, they enter the target clinic and refuse to leave, while offering roses and help to the women in the waiting room. They are definitely committing trespass, but they do not violate FACE, with its substantial penalties.
People v. Walterscheid (Los Angeles, CA) – Pro-lifer was arrested and cited for felony vandalism for sidewalk chalking outside of Linda Marquez High School in Huntington Park, CA and on sidewalks around the city. The school and the city claimed that it cost more than $ 3,000 to clean up the sidewalk chalk. Charges were later reduced to misdemeanors. A deferment agreement was reached and all charges will be dismissed in October.
The Heidi Group v Texas HHSC (Austin, TX) —Former Planned Parenthood clinic owner turned pro-life advocate Carol Everett received state funding to start a network of pro-life health clinics (The Heidi Group) to compete with PP. Several Texas papers published hit pieces on Carol after HHSC released results of an incomplete investigation alleging she committed fraud as she allegedly did not serve the number of clients required under the grant contract. HHSC then terminated Carol’s grant without explanation.
The Office of the Inspector General released the results of its audit in July 2021, finding no evidence of fraud. Life Legal affiliate attorney Ed Watt filed suit against Texas HHSC and other state and individual defendants in March 2022. Defendant Texas HHSC filed a motion to dismiss and we filed our response in July 2022. Magistrate’s report, which is required for the state to proceed, was issued in January, 2023. Magistrate allowed nearly all claims against defendants to move forward.
In the Matter of Joshua Barras (Lafayette, LA) —Wife of 37-year-old brain-injured man wants to take him home on “comfort care” without nutrition and hydration. Joshua was injured after he tried to hang himself when he was taken into custody on a drug charge. His father had committed suicide shortly before. We are representing Joshua’s mother, who wants to keep him alive. Both the wife and mother appeared on Dr. Phil. The court granted our motion to continue food and water.
Victory: Joshua’s mother is now Joshua’s primary health care decision-maker. Unfortunately, Joshua’s wife is continuing to litigate in an attempt to avoid divorce so she can collect any judgments/settlements arising out of Joshua’s injury.
Aragaw v. Carhart et al, Norris v. Carhart et al (Germantown, MD)—We are assisting in two lawsuits filed by a Maryland attorney on behalf of two women who were seriously injured following late term abortions. Settlement negotiations are underway.
Commonwealth v. Mueller, Hinshaw, Moscinski (West Chester, PA)—Red Rose Rescuers charged with felony trespass after entering abortion facility. One of the defendants agreed to diversion, defendants Moscinski and Mueller will go to trial. The arraignment hearing was on November 18, 2021. Trial date not set yet. Fr. Moscinski is currently serving 90 days in jail in another Red Rose case.
Thomas Short v. Berger (D. Ariz)—Lawsuit filed to challenge military vaccine mandate. Preliminary injunction was denied, and the denial is on appeal to the Ninth Circuit. In August 2022, a district court in Florida granted class-wide preliminary injunctive relief to Marines who had a religious objection to receiving the vaccine, and in January 2023, the vaccine mandate was repealed.
At that time, the DoD also ordered that also disciplinary actions be withdrawn for currently serving service members who had refused the vaccine and requested accommodations. Oral argument of Short’s appeal was held on January 17, but because of the rescission, the focus of the argument was whether the case was moot or not.
In March, the Ninth Circuit vacated the lower court’s decisions (good!) and dismissed the appeal as moot. The case is now stayed in the District Court as further administrative processes unraveling the effects of the RFRA violation play out.
Gender Justice v. MN — Life Legal helped fund the attempted intervention of a group of mothers of teen-age girls into this lawsuit that successfully challenged several decades-old restrictions on abortion, including parental notification and informed consent. Last July, a trial court in MN permanently enjoined the law and the pro-abortion Attorney General announced he would not appeal. At that point Mothers Offering Maternal Support (MOMS) filed a motion to intervene, arguing that the AG had not competently defended the law and, specifically, had not defended their rights as parents of minor girls. The intervention motion was denied; an appeal is being prepared.
However, the November elections gave the Democrat party in MN a trifecta, so legislation to repeal all restrictions on abortion is making its way through the legislature. Passage of this law will moot the intervention. Appellate briefing is nearly complete.
Attleboro v. William Wolf (MA): Pro-lifer facing possible criminal complaint for obstruction for standing by the side of the road near abortion clinic wearing a medical jacket and holding a clipboard, with a sign saying “Check in.” When cars stop and roll down the window, he hands them pro-life information. Arraignment on October 3.
Vitagliano v. County of Westchester (NY): Amicus ISO cert petition challenging Hill-type law just passed in Westchester County. The case is intended as a bid for the Court to do the right thing and overrule Hill v. Colorado. On August 7, the County repealed the law, with even PP testifying in support of the repeal. Although it was passed only a year ago (undoubtedly in a fit of post-Dobbs virtue-signaling), now they say it isn’t necessary at this time. But really they are just trying to avoid review by the Supreme Court.
Volokh v. James (NY AG): amicus brief in support of appellee, defending preliminary injunction issued against New York law requiring [something to do with websites] to have policies for reporting “hateful conduct” online. Our brief is to emphasize that pure speech cannot be conduct. Speech is not violence; violence is not speech. Due September 7.
Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Ac,” or EMTALA. (Texas) Life Legal filed an amicus brief urging the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals to uphold the right of unborn children to emergency medical care. We argue that the use of the word “individual” in EMTALA should be construed to include an unborn child. We also argue that EMTALA does not preempt state laws restricting or prohibiting abortion.
Arizona v. Maison DesChamps, Arizona v. Jake Shick (Phoenix, AZ): Pro-lifer climbed the Chase Bank building in Phoenix, AZ to raise awareness of Let Them Live, a charity that helps women cancel their abortions by providing financial support. The climb was video recorded using a drone. Both men were charged with criminal trespass and nuisance. Both cases are set for pre-trial hearings later this fall.
LaDondrous Green (Riverside County, CA)—65-year-old patient was denied dialysis while hospitalized, which would have resulted in his death. Life Legal contract attorney Sadie Daniels is litigating.
Uwe Bendantunguka (San Diego, CA)—26-year-old man suffered a brain injury after being hit by a car. Scripps Mercy Hospital refuses to provide nutrition and is threatening to remove ventilator support.
Devontae Carter (Phoenix, AZ)—21-year-old schizophrenic man attempted to hang himself while in jail awaiting trial. The hospital wanted to declare him brain dead in order to remove care, but was unable to complete the brain death exams. During one exam, the patient withdrew his foot in response to pain, which the neurologist insisted was a “reflex.” We were able to get the hospital to continue treatment, but unfortunately the patient passed away while on the ventilator.
Alim Tokbergen (Orange County, CA)—Three-year-old drowning victim suffered a severe brain injury. Children’s Hospital declared her brain dead and sought to withdraw care. We were able to get the hospital to continue care to give the parents time to meet with a member of the clergy and get a second medical opinion.
California Legislation with possible litigation:
AB 2223: We are evaluating our legal options to challenge a new law that creates a right to self-induced abortion for women and their assistants. The law also legalizes infanticide up to 30 days after birth for causes that occur in utero, including cases where babies are born alive during a DIY abortion.
The bill also imposes severe penalties on state actors who attempt to prosecute cases where viable babies are killed after birth. Unfortunately, the CA Conference of Catholic Bishops removed its opposition to the bill, which facilitated its passage.
Proposition 1: Life Legal is part of a coalition opposing a California amendment that would create a constitutional right to “reproductive freedom,” explicitly including abortion and birth control. “Reproductive freedom” also includes transgender reassignment therapy, IVF, surrogacy, sex work, etc. Minors would also be able to assert these “rights.” We have launched a targeted marketing campaign to educate people about the dangers of Prop 1. We are evaluating options to challenge.
SB 24 (passed in 2020): Contemplating challenging the mandated provision of abortion related services/facilities on CSU and UC campuses. The challenge would be based on the same requirement of neutrality between abortion and childbirth as is at issue in the challenge to SB 245.
Other pending/potential litigation
May v. South Fulton (Georgia) – Planned lawsuit challenging city ordinance prohibiting all amplification (mechanical or otherwise) of sound within city limits. Plaintiffs are pro-life sidewalk counselors who counsel patients outside a clinic set back approximately 100 feet from the sidewalk.
Western Washington University (Bellingham, WA)—Pro-life groups attacked at Western WA University. Police action pending for using knife to destroy signs. We are contemplating civil action to include hate crime.
Napa Planned Parenthood (Napa, CA) —Pro-lifers, including Life Legal staff, were shot at with pellet guns in two separate incidents outside PP in Napa. Law enforcement has not taken any action. We have video footage and are contemplating legal action.
Walnut Creek Bubble Zone Ordinance: Walnut Creek City Council has enacted restrictions on speech at abortion clinics. Life Legal is working with local advocates to ensure that they have the right to continue activities outside the abortion mill.
Mt. San Antonio College (Walnut, CA) —Community college student questioned whether her professor was permitted to display pro-abortion posters in the classroom. Student was told by Student Life adviser that she could take down any posters not authorized by the school. Student took down posters and is being threatened with charges.
Ross Foti as victim(San Mateo, CA) —Elderly pro-life activist suffered a punctured lung after a woman pushed him into a fire hydrant outside Planned Parenthood. The woman was upset that Ross parked in front of the abortion mill. The woman was cited but not taken into custody. The police completed their investigation and sent the report to the district attorney recommending prosecution. Three months later, after LLDF urged calls from the public, the District Attorney filed two charges against Ross’s assailant: battery causing serious bodily harm and battery on an elder.
Uniform Determination of Death Act (UDDA)—The Uniform Law Commission is contemplating changes to the UDDA, a model law that has been adopted by nearly every state. The current language allows a determination of death to be made in cases of irreversible cessation of all functions of the entire brain, including the brain stem. The changes would allow a determination of death to be made in cases where a patient still has brain stem activity and would result in a more subjective determination of both brain death and cardiorespiratory death. Life Legal strongly opposes the changes and will submit a letter to the Commission in June.
Dupont Clinic (Beverly Hills) — The Dupont abortion clinic in Washington D.C. announced plans to open a new location in Beverly Hills in Fall 2023. The Dupont clinic promotes itself as creating a spa-like environment while you have an abortion. Life Legal worked with Tasha Baker and Survivors of the Abortion Holocaust to expose the horrid practices of Dupont. When the landlord of the building learned that Dupont provided late term abortions, they cancelled the lease. The city worked with the coalition to ensure that Dupont would not open in Beverly Hills.