The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has denied Liberty Counsel’s request for a hearing with the entire appeals court in the multimillion-dollar civil lawsuit against Sandra Merritt.
Liberty Counsel previously filed a request for an en banc (full court) review and presented argument that the appeals court should reverse the lower court’s ruling, order a new trial and strike the punitive damages award.
Merritt and David Daleiden, founder of Center for Medical Progress, released videos in 2015 exposing Planned Parenthood’s illegal trade in aborted baby body parts, after a 30-month undercover operation. The videos showed Planned Parenthood executives haggling over prices of aborted baby body parts and discussing how they change abortion procedures to obtain more intact organs.
In 2019, the case was heard by San Francisco’s U.S. District Court Judge William Orrick III, who is the founder of the Good Samaritan Family Resource Center that houses the Planned Parenthood of Northern California facility in its complex. In 2017, the defense requested that Orrick recuse himself from the case and he refused. Judge Orrick severely restricted the evidence, and at the end, gave instructions to the jury on how they should rule on critical issues.
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The jury decided in favor of the abortion giant on each count, including RICO, and awarded more than $2 million in damages. The court subsequently awarded Planned Parenthood nearly $14 million in attorney’s fees and costs, for a total judgment of over $16 million.
Liberty Counsel’s Founder and Chairman Mat Staver said, “The Supreme Court is our next destination to undo the injustice of this case. The High Court will have the final say. Every journalist and person who values free speech and a free press should be concerned with the implications of this case. We will fight for the free speech rights of all people.”