Life Legal is preparing to file a petition for review with the U.S. Supreme Court in Planned Parenthood v. Daleiden, et al. after the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit denied our most recent request to rehear the case. The lawsuit stems from the Center for Medical Progress’s publication of videos showing Planned Parenthood officials negotiating the sale of baby body parts.
In 2016, Planned Parenthood sued David Daleiden, fellow investigative journalists, and the Center for Medical Progress in federal court for the express purpose of punishing the pro-lifers for exposing the abortion giant’s illegal trade in the body parts of aborted babies. A San Francisco jury found for Planned Parenthood and awarded $2 million in damages. Judge William Orrick awarded Planned Parenthood a whopping $14 million in attorney fees.
We appealed the decision and even PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) supported our appeal, saying the court’s decision would “be a roadmap…to sue journalists, activists, and whistleblowers to chill their undercover investigative work.”
Inexplicably, a three-member panel of the San Francisco-based Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals disagreed and affirmed the unjust verdict. Last fall, we filed a petition requesting a rehearing of the appeal by a panel of 11 justices of the Ninth Circuit. On March 1, 2023, the court denied our petition without explanation.
We were shocked when not a single judge on the Ninth Circuit voted to rehear the case, given the momentous free speech rights at stake. As PETA noted, the astronomic damage award will serve as a deterrent to other investigative journalists who seek to draw attention to matters of public interest that would otherwise remain shielded from scrutiny. Undercover journalists played a key role in exposing the horrors of slavery and more recently have shed light on abuses in our food delivery chain and Medicare fraud.
Life Legal’s Chief Legal Officer Katie Short responded to the denial of our petition, saying, “This is a great day for the plaintiff’s bar. Based on the Ninth Circuit’s decision, a plaintiff who suffered no harm can be awarded damages for expenses he voluntarily incurs to prevent some hypothetical harm from a hypothetical tort in the future, committed by anyone, not just the defendant who has to pay.”
Life Legal is representing long-time pro-lifer Albin Rhomberg, who was sued in his capacity as a founding board member of the Center for Medical Progress. We will file our petition for certiorari with the Supreme Court in May.