Life Legal Defense Foundation today filed a petition for certiorari with the U.S. Supreme Court asking it to reverse a multi-million-dollar judgment against longtime pro-life activist Albin Rhomberg and the Center for Medical Progress.
As you may remember, in 2016 Planned Parenthood sued the Center for Medical Progress (CMP) and several individuals after CMP published a series of videos showing abortionists negotiating the sale of baby body parts. CMP also provided evidence that human body part brokers purchased tissue and organs of aborted babies from Planned Parenthood, which is a federal crime.
The lawsuit charged that CMP and those who assisted it in its investigation had violated RICO, the federal anti-racketeering statute.
After a six-week trial, a federal court in San Francisco awarded Planned Parenthood over $2 million in damages and $14 million in attorney fees, which was affirmed by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The damages were not to compensate for any actual injury or loss, but rather to reimburse PP for the costs of updating and upgrading its security systems, to prevent another successful infiltration. After all, the $2 billion abortion behemoth had allowed a group of citizen journalists access to its abortion industry conferences armed only with obviously homemade IDs and the offer to pay money for body parts.
To ensure that the jury was sufficiently concerned about Planned Parenthood’s safety, the federal judge allowed Planned Parenthood to call an “expert witness” on “anti-abortion terrorism and violence.” Other witnesses reminded the jury that “doctors have been murdered.” Not only was this testimony biased, it was completely irrelevant, as there was no suggestion that any of the pro-life defendants had ever threatened or engaged in any violence against abortion doctors or clinics. Their intent was to expose acts of violence, not commit them.
No court has ever allowed damages solely to place a plaintiff in a better position, or to avoid possible problems in the future. But that is exactly what San Francisco-based federal courts did to these pro-life advocates. Under this precedent, if my neighbor cuts across my lawn, I can sue him for trespass and make him pay for a fence to keep him or anyone else from crossing my lawn in the future.
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“Our client and the Center for Medical Progress did not damage or steal anything belonging to Planned Parenthood,” explained Life Legal Chief Counsel Katie Short. “The only ‘injury’ Planned Parenthood incurred was to be exposed for its undeniable, contemptible disregard for the sanctity of human life.”
Through CMP’s videos, viewers saw Planned Parenthood abortionists describe how they would “pull off a leg or two” from fully developed, second trimester babies and “crush above and crush below” to procure intact body parts for sale.
Because the lower courts and the Ninth Circuit clearly deviated from established law in awarding “compensatory” damages that do not compensate for any loss, we are asking the Supreme Court to reverse the judgment below and dismiss the case.
Life Legal Defense Foundation was established in 1989, and is a nonprofit organization composed of attorneys and other concerned citizens committed to giving helpless and innocent human beings of any age, and their advocates, a trained and committed voice in the courtrooms of our nation. For more information about the Life Legal Defense Foundation, visit www.lldf.org.