SAN FRANCISCO (Catholic News Service) – After a ten-member jury handed down a multimillion-dollar verdict late Nov. 15 in a federal lawsuit against David Daleiden late Nov. 15, a Chicago based pro-life firm said it would appeal the judgment on behalf of Daleiden and his organization, the Center for Medical Progress.
Daleiden, who denies any wrongdoing, will have to pay over $2.2 million to Planned Parenthood under the verdict, handed down under the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations law, or RICO, and other laws.
Planned Parenthood and 10 of its abortion affiliates brought the lawsuit in 2016 over undercover investigative videos filmed in 2015 by Daleiden and his colleague Sandra Merritt that showed Planned Parenthood officials discussing fees related to fetal tissue. The two posed as representatives of a mythical fetal tissue procurement firm.
“This lawsuit is payback for David Daleiden exposing Planned Parenthood’s dirty business of buying and selling fetal parts and organs,” said Peter Breen, lead defense attorney of the Thomas More Society in Chicago.
“We intend to seek vindication for David on appeal. His investigation into criminal activity by America’s largest abortion provider utilized standard investigative journalism techniques, those applied regularly by news outlets across the country,” Breen added.
The civil trial, Planned Parenthood Federation of America Inc. et al v. Center for Medical Progress et al, was argued before Judge William H. Orrick III in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.
Planned Parenthood claimed among other things fraud, invasion of privacy and trespassing in its suit.
The organization said monies it received were standard reimbursement fees charged to researchers and that any allegations it profited “in any way from tissue donation is not true.” But in the fall of 2015, Cecile Richards, then CEO of Planned Parenthood, announced the organization would no longer accept the reimbursements.
“Rather than face up to its heinous doings, Planned Parenthood chose to persecute the person who exposed it,” Breen added in a statement. “I am fully confident that when this case has run its course, justice will prevail, and David will be vindicated.”
In a statement, Planned Parenthood’s acting president and CEO, Alexis McGill Johnson, said the organization was “thrilled with today’s verdict.”
“The jury recognized today that those behind the (undercover video) campaign broke the law in order to advance their goals of banning safe, legal abortion in this country, and to prevent Planned Parenthood from serving the patients who depend on us,” she said.
A number of pro-life leaders around the country decried the verdict against Daleiden, including the president of the Susan B. Anthony List, Marjorie Dannenfelser.
She called is a “profoundly unjust verdict” in “a trial stacked from day one by a pro-abortion activist judge.”
“Still, the testimony heard — including stunning admissions that Planned Parenthood’s baby parts buyer sold the beating hearts and fully intact heads of innocent children killed in potentially illegal abortions — has further exposed the truth about abortion industry brutality and greed,” Dannenfelser added.
She and Breen noted that what the videos exposed prompted the U.S. Congress to issue criminal referrals for Planned Parenthood, and numerous states and elected officials have moved to strip it of funding.
Attorneys from the Thomas More Society continue to defend Daleiden in an ongoing California state criminal trial over the same video exposes.
People of the State of California v. David Robert Daleiden and Sandra Susan Merritt is being heard in the Superior Court of California County of San Francisco by Judge Christopher Hite. Daleiden is being prosecuted by California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, after the case was initiated by his predecessor, current Democratic presidential candidate Kamala Harris.
A news release from the Thomas More Society noted the firm successfully defended pro-life activist Joseph Scheidler in the seminal RICO lawsuit, NOW v. Scheidler, winning repeatedly at the Supreme Court to overturn the trial court decision in that case, 8-1 in 2003 and unanimously in 2006.