A jury in San Francisco on Friday ordered that undercover pro-life activists must pay $1.2 million in damages for surreptitiously filming and publishing videos of Planned Parenthood employees discussing fetal tissue sales.
The jury awarded $870,000 in punitive damages and over $400,000 in compensatory damages to the women’s healthcare giant on Friday afternoon, following a six-week trial in the U.S. District Court for Northern California stemming from a Planned Parenthood civil lawsuit. Jurors said sham medical company — BioMax — must pay $200,000 and the conspiracy’s director David Daleiden must pay $125,000.
“Lady Justice was not blind in this trial,” said the Center for Medical Progress, the defendants’ umbrella group, in a Tweet after the ruling. The anti-abortion group accused Judge William Orrick III, an Obama appointee, of bias and said the ruling leaves a “black eye for #1A [the First Amendment].”
Attorneys for CMP said they will appeal the jury’s ruling.
Planned Parenthood sued Mr. Daleiden and co-defendants, including Sandra Merritt, after they both employed pseudonyms and orchestrated a sting video-operation at abortion expos they said was aimed at outing illegal fetal harvesting procedures.
No criminal action by the state of California ever emerged from those videos. However, Planned Parenthood had alleged in court records and in testimony during the trial that the clinics’ safety was greatly compromised by the publication of those videos.
Pro-Life San Francisco, an advocacy group, said “Undercover journalism is now illegal in the U.S.” in a Tweet.
A separate criminal proceeding against Mr. Daleiden for invasion of privacy and eavesdropping is ongoing in California.
The jury found CMP liable for a range of actions, including trespass, fraud, breach of contract, civil racketeering, and recording laws under California, Florida, and Maryland state laws.
A range of states and congressional committees undertook investigations after CMP released the videos to social media in 2015, which advocates say showed abortion doctors admitting to clinicians performing illegal procedures. However, on the stand, the former medical director for Planned Parenthood for America denied any illegal activity took place.
Texas released Planned Parenthood from its Medicare rolls due, in part, to allegations of wrongdoing contained in CMP’s videos. That decision was upheld by the U.S. Court of Appeals earlier this year.