Life Legal Cases to Watch

Current Cases — November 2022 

Dobbs v. JWHO (Jackson, MS)—Last abortion clinic in Mississippi challenged MS’s 15- week-abortion ban. Life Legal filed an amicus brief in support of granting certiorari, drawing from our white paper on perinatal survival, arguing that Roe and Casey’s use of the “point” of viability as a boundary for the constitutionality of abortion restrictions was illogical and unworkable. The Supreme Court granted certiorari. Mississippi has asked the Court to overrule Roe and Casey. Over 80 amicus briefs were filed, and most of those also asked the Court to overrule Roe and Casey. Life Legal filed an amicus brief at the merits stage as well. VICTORY! The Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade on June 24, 2022. 

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.  

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 2023.  

U.S. v. Jay Smith, et al (Washington, DC) —Nine pro-lifers were arrested by federal agents in March 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. Trial for some of the defendants is scheduled for August 2023. 

State of Louisiana v. Puckett and Goodman (Baton Rouge, LA)—Red Rose Rescuers entered an abortion clinic to save babies and moms. Arrested and facing charges of Failure to Disperse. VICTORY! Case dismissed. 

Baby Olivia (Washington, DC) —Baby Olivia suffered a brain injury at 2 weeks old. Hospital wanted to remove life-sustaining care. Life Legal attorneys got the hospital to back off and ensured that proper care and treatment was continued. Baby Olivia is now at home undergoing rehabilitative therapy. 

Alabama Department of Public Health (Alabama) —Life Legal sent numerous demand letters to the Alabama Department of Public Health (“ADPH”) seeking comprehensive investigations of abortion clinics in Alabama. Most recently, we demanded an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the death of a woman who died at a local hospital the day she obtained an abortion at West Alabama Women’s Center (WAWC) in Tuscaloosa. We also urged ADPH to revoke the abortion license issued to Planned Parenthood Birmingham because of its false advertising. ADPH declined to take any action in response to the demands. Recently, someone delivered four large trash bags of medical waste and WAWC patient intake forms to Fr. Terry Gensemer of the Charismatic Episcopal Church (CEC). We filed a complaint with the AL Dept. of Environmental Management re improper disposal of hazardous medical waste, but the agency found no violations. We will likely file a writ petition asking the court to compel ADPH to conduct thorough inspections of Alabama’s abortion clinics. After the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs, Alabama’s three abortion clinics closed – however, the “POWER House,” which offers Plan B and instructions on how to obtain abortions in other states, remains open. Alabama law prohibits abortion at any stage of development, with exceptions for ectopic pregnancy, fetal lethal anomaly, and serious health risk to the mother. Evaluating further legal action. 

Baby Q v. Kay Ivey (Montgomery, AL) —Life Legal and Alabama attorney Sam McClure filed petition for writ of mandamus on behalf of “Baby Q,” a pseudonymous African-American preborn baby, and “next of friend” Amie Beth Shaver asking the court to enforce Alabama’s Amendment 930, which recognizes the sanctity of life of unborn children. Court granted abortionists motion to dismiss on May 5, 2022. McClure filed notice of appeal to Alabama Supreme Court on May 19, 2022. This case is likely to be moot, given Alabama’s ban on most abortions.   

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. 

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. The man’s mother wants to keep him alive. Both the wife and daughter appeared on Dr. Phil. The court granted our motion to continue food and water. After numerous delays, trial is set for June 16, 2022. Temporary victory: Joshua’s mother is his primary decision-maker and his wife is the secondary decision-maker. The court instructed Josh’s court-appointed attorney to file divorce papers, after which Josh’s mother will be his sole decision-maker. Unfortunately, the court has prohibited the mother from fundraising for his care until the case is resolved. 

Hughes v. Glendale Memorial and Gaytan (Los Angeles, CA) —31 y/o woman suffered a brain injury and was on life support following a severe asthma attack in January. The hospital wanted to remove care. Fiancé/POA objected, so hospital unilaterally appointed the woman’s mother as surrogate decision-maker. We sued the hospital and the mother. The woman has been transferred to a long-term nursing facility. She is off the ventilator and starting speech therapy. VICTORY! The court dismissed the action! Our client’s POA is presumptively valid and he is able to make health care decisions on behalf of his fiancée.  

Rutledge v. Little Rock Family Planning Services (AR) —Challenge to Arkansas ban on abortions sought because of a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome. Eighth Circuit struck down the law as contrary to Roe and Casey. Life Legal filed an amicus brief in support of petition for certiorari arguing that the petition should be granted because Roe and Casey were wrongly decided and should be overruled. Case was remanded for consideration in light of Dobbs.  

Vergara v. Loeb (Los Angeles, CA)—Father of two frozen embryos in legal battle to gain custody of the embryos so he can have them implanted. The mother of the embryos wants to destroy them. The couple did not give specific instructions as to disposition of the embryos in the event of a separation. Trial court judge ruled that neither party may take any unilateral action with regard to the disposition of the embryos. Loeb lost on appeal in October 2022.  

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. The case is currently in discovery. 

Simons (Cleveland, OH) —42 y/o man suffered a brain injury after brain surgery last October. His wife sought to withdraw food and water. We have been working with the family to enforce an Ohio law that prohibits the withdrawal of nutrition and hydration until a patient has been in a permanently unconscious state for at least 12 months. He is responsive and able to follow basic commands. Tragically, the man passed away after his wife authorized the withdrawal of food and water without the family’s knowledge or consent.  

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. 

Jackson Women’s Health (Jackson, MS)—Deathscort who was disrupting pro-life vigil by honking her horn while driving around abortion facility hit pro-lifer Mark Godbold with her car. Civil action is underway. 

Jackson Women’s Health (Jackson, MS)—Deathscorts harassed and issued death threats against pro-lifer Joshua Carroll. Evaluating legal action.

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. 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.  

Kitchens v. Simplot (Boise ID) — Lawsuit filed to challenge vaccine mandate. 

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. Government has filed a motion to dismiss, which is currently being briefed.  

Mark Short v. Berger (C.D. Cal) — Lawsuit filed to challenge military vaccine mandate. Prelimimary injunction was denied. Government has filed a motion to dismiss which is being briefed. We are preparing to renew the motion for TRO/PI when Mark Short receives his final separation notice, and, if/when that is denied, appeal to the Ninth Circuit for emergency relief.  

(The continuation of both cases is contingent on whether a class-wide injunction for Marines issues from the Middle District of Florida.) 
 

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. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for October, 2022.  

Conemac et al v. Planned Parenthood Northern California (Napa, CA) Pro-lifers filed complaint against PP and deathscorts for violation of local bubble zone ordinance passed to “protect” the clinic, escorts, and clients. PP, represented by Arnold & Porter, filed an answer.  

303 Creative v. Elenis — Amicus brief with BDF.  Case scheduled for argument before the US Supreme Court October 2022-2023. The issue: whether applying a public-accommodation law to compel an artist to speak or stay silent violates the free speech clause of the First Amendment. 

SB 742: Challenge filed to California law that prohibits leafleting or counseling within 30 feet of any person who is within 100 feet of the entrance of any “vaccination site,” including any Planned Parenthood or other abortion mill that provides Gardasil or other vaccines. VICTORY! Judge enjoined the entire statute. We are awaiting a final ruling. 
 

AB 1356: Filed TRO motion to enjoin California law that prohibits video recording outside abortion clinics with the specific intent to keep someone from becoming a client of the facility filed on behalf of sidewalk counselors. Judge denied TRO and asked for simultaneous briefing on whether the plaintiffs had standing because they did not have the requisite “intent to intimidate.” Briefs filed on January 17 and we are awaiting further direction from the court. 

SB 380: Filed lawsuit with ADF in March to challenge California statute that removes safeguards from California’s assisted suicide law and forces doctors to participate in suicide. Doctors are now required to provide documentation needed for patients to obtain lethal drugs. We are representing the Christian Medical and Dental Assn. A hearing on preliminary injunction was held in late July, and we are awaiting a ruling.  

SB 245: We have written letters in opposition to a bill that will force all insurance companies to make all abortions cost-free to their insureds and dependents.  We are preparing to challenge it on the grounds that CA law requires abortion and childbirth to be treated neutrally. 

 California Legislation and Related Cases we are watching/considering litigating: 

AB 2223: Life Legal has registered formal opposition to a bill that creates a right to self-induced abortion for women and their assistants. The bill 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 and has taken a neutral position. Evaluating legal options to challenge. 

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. 

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.   

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.  

San Mateo Bubble Zone Ordinance:  San Mateo City Council is on same path to do the same as Walnut Creek. Ordinance passed. One failed attempt by PP to enforce it against pro-lifers.  

Environmental Waste Project—We are contemplating filing a lawsuit in response to a California law that requires every state-funded university to provide abortion pills on campus, which will result in the bodies of aborted fetuses entering wastewater systems. We are consulting with environmental law experts to help us to determine the potential public health risks.  

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