Federal Judge Rules RICO Charges and Other Counts Against Pro-Life Journalists Will Go to the Jury in Planned Parenthood Baby Parts Suit

Troy Newman, President of Operation Rescue, and a defendant in the Planned Parenthood Federal Court suit for his work with the Center for Medical Progress.

By Cheryl Sullenger

San Francisco, CA – Judge William Orrick issued a 137-page final order on several motions for summary judgement made by both sides in the Planned Parenthood v. Center for Medical Progress, et. al case, most of which were denied as to the pro-life defendants, with some minor exceptions.

The case is slated to begin in Orrick’s San Francisco Federal courtroom on October 2, 2019.

The case stemmed from an undercover investigative research project that produced a series of videos that showed Planned Parenthood executives violating state and federal laws that prohibit the sale of aborted baby tissues and organs for profit.

Defendants in the case include the following:

  • Center for Medical Progress
  • Biomax, a fake organ procurement company used by CMP journalists.
  • Troy Newman, one of three founding board members for the CMP who is also President of Operation Rescue.
  • Albin Rhomberg, one of three founding board members for the CMP.
  • David Daleiden, project lead and one of three founding board members of the CMP.
  • Sandra Merritt, an undercover journalist working with the CMP.
  • Geraldo Adrian Lopez, who also worked as an undercover journalist for the CMP.

Plaintiffs include Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA), five California Planned Parenthood organizations, Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains (Colorado), Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast (Texas), and Planned Parenthood Center for Choice (Florida).

The most serious of the 15 counts alleged by the Planned Parenthood suit is the Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organization (RICO) charge.  Allegations of RICO violations will go to the jury at the time of trial.

All the pro-life activists had their Public Policy Defense rejected by Judge Orrick. They had claimed that because they captured evidence of law-breaking by Planned Parenthood executives, that justified the undercover investigation because it served the public good.

Newman, Rhomberg, Merritt, and Lopez won on the question of whether they were liable for breach of contract against PPFA, but other liability issues will be heard by the jury.

Also, the court ruled that Newman and Rhomberg cannot be held directly responsible for trespass, the jury will consider whether they are responsible under the Conspiracy charge.

As for damages, Judge Orrick ruled that the pro-life defendants are not liable for acts committed by third parties as a result of the release of the undercover videos.  However, can be held liable for other damages directly related to acts taken in the process of the journalistic investigation into the illegal trafficking in aborted baby remains.

The pro-life defendants face the potential of being liable for millions in direct and punitive damages and millions more in Planned Parenthood’s legal fees, should they lose the trial.

“We are praying for the best but preparing for the worst,” said Newman.  “This is the most serious legal case I have ever faced – and I have faced many for my pro-life work over the years.  I am grateful for my attorneys with the American Center for Law and Justice for their hard work on my behalf, and also for everyone who has supported and prayed for us.”

Read the Final Order dated August 23, 2019.