Judge Adds Insult to Injury in Merritt Case

Dec 22, 2020

Despite the fact that Liberty Counsel has appealed to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals regarding the verdict in the civil lawsuit against Sandra Merritt for her undercover investigation of Planned Parenthood’s trafficking of human baby body parts, U.S. District Court Judge William Orrick III issued an order today granting the abortion giant over $13 million in “attorney fees and costs,” in addition to more than $2 million in damages awarded by the jury. 

Judge Orrick ignored Merritt’s request to wait until the Ninth Circuit ruled in the appeal before issuing any further orders. Instead, the court has now awarded Planned Parenthood over six times the amount of the original jury verdict in attorney fees and costs. 

Merritt and colleague David Daleiden, the founder of Center for Medical Progress, produced videos in 2015 exposing Planned Parenthood’s illegal trade in aborted baby body parts after a 30-month undercover operation. The videos showed top-level Planned Parenthood executives haggling over prices of aborted baby body parts and discussing how they change abortion procedures to obtain more intact organs.

Throughout the six-week trial, Judge Orrick specifically influenced the way the jury considered the issues and blocked them from watching many of the recorded conversations in the undercover videos. Orrick also told members of the jury they couldn't look at this as a First Amendment case, where freedom of speech and the press could be considered as a defense. However, Merritt and Daleiden acted according to the parameters of California recording law and no other citizen journalist or journalism organization has ever been charged with a crime for undercover recordings made in the public interest. The San Francisco jury decided in favor of the abortion giant on each count, including RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations), and awarded more than $2 million in damages. 

In 2017, the defense requested that Orrick recuse himself from the case, and he refused. 

Liberty Counsel’s Chief Litigation Counsel Horatio Mihet said, “Today’s decision adds insult to the profound injury inflicted by Planned Parenthood on those who exposed its misdeeds. Planned Parenthood deserves scorn and criminal prosecution for its barbaric practice, not millions of dollars in reward. We are asking the higher courts to right this wrong as part of our ongoing efforts to vindicate Sandra Merritt for her courageous work in exposing the truth about Planned Parenthood.” 

Liberty Counsel advances religious liberty, the sanctity of human life, and the family through litigation and education. We depend on your support, which enables us to represent people at no cost. Click here to GIVE NOW.