Filed Date: Jan. 14, 2013
Closed Date: 2015
Clearinghouse coding complete
On January 14, 2013, several Catholic business owners filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri under 42 U.S.C. §1983, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act ("RFRA"), and the Administrative Procedures Act ("APA"), against the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services, Labor, and the Treasury. The plaintiffs, represented by the Alliance Defense Fund, asked the court for both declaratory and injunctive relief, alleging that federal rules adopted pursuant to the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act ("ACA") violated their religious freedom by requiring them to provide coverage for contraception through their companies' group health insurance plans. Claiming that providing contraceptive coverage would contravene their Catholic faith, the plaintiffs sought an exemption from the ACA's contraception mandate for themselves and other business owners with similar religious objections.
Plaintiffs, shareholders and operators of a manufacturing company that employed 370 people, maintained a health insurance plan that provided medical coverage to all of its employees. In accordance with the plaintiffs' religious beliefs, the healthcare plan specifically excluded abortifacient drugs, contraception, and sterilization. However, the ACA required employers with more than 50 full-time employees to provide health insurance coverage that included contraception and surgical sterilization, as well as education and counseling for such services. Failure to comply with the ACA mandate resulted in a monetary penalties.
The complaint alleged that the defendants' actions in implementing the ACA coerced the plaintiffs and thousands of other individuals to engage in acts against their religious beliefs. Specifically, as Catholics, the plaintiffs opposed paying for, providing, facilitating, or otherwise supporting abortifacient drugs, contraception, or elective sterilization, which they claimed was compulsory under the health coverage requirements of the ACA. Plaintiffs alleged this violated their right to freely practice their religion, required them to fund government-dictated speech, and violated their rights under the RFRA and the APA.
On February 27, 2013, plaintiffs moved for a preliminary injunction to stay enforcement of DHS's regulations that required plaintiffs to provide insurance coverage for contraception and sterilization. Defendants did not oppose this motion, pending Eight Circuit Court of Appeals rulings on two similar cases, (1) O'Brien v. U.S. Dep't of Health and Human Services, 894 F.Supp.2d 1149 (E.D. Mo. 2012) or (2) Annex Medical, Inc. v. Sebelius, No. 12–2804 2013 WL 101927 (D. Minn. Jan. 8, 2013), whichever was decided first.
On February 28, 2013, the District Court (Judge Ortrie D. Smith) granted the plaintiffs' motion and stayed all proceedings until the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on the appeals in Annex or O'Brien, or until the Supreme Court issued a ruling in a substantially similar case.
On June 30, 2014, the Supreme Court issued a decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., 134 S. Ct. 2751 (2014), a substantially similar case. In a 5-4 opinion by Justice Alito, the Court held that the HHS regulations imposing the contraceptive mandate violate RFRA, when applied to closely-held for-profit corporations.
In light of this decision, on July 15, 2014, Judge Smith issued an order lifting the stay and directing the parties to file a Joint Status Report, which the parties filed on August 18, 2014. On September 19, 2014, Judge Smith issued an order continuing the preliminary injunction and directing the parties to file a proposed injunction and judgment. On October 1, 2014, both parties filed their responses, and on October 15, 2014, each party filed its suggestions to the other party's respective response.
On November 12, 2014, Judge Smith issued an order permanently enjoining the defendants from (1) enforcing the ACA's contraceptive coverage requirement, (2) assessing any penalties or fines for noncompliance, and (3) taking any other actions based on noncompliance with the requirement.
On January 28, 2015, the plaintiffs moved for attorneys' fees, but they withdrew the motion on February 11, 2015. There has been no further action and the case now appears closed.
Tifani Sadek (10/3/2013)
Mallory Jones (12/5/2013)
Richard Jolly (4/4/2014)
Elizabeth Greiter (11/8/2017)
For PACER's information on parties and their attorneys, see: https://www.courtlistener.com/docket/5038152/parties/sioux-chief-mfg-co-inc-v-sebelius/
Smith, Ortrie D. (Missouri)
Theriot, Kevin H. (Kansas)
Whitehead, Jonathan R. (Missouri)
Bennett, Michelle Renee (District of Columbia)
See docket on RECAP: https://www.courtlistener.com/docket/5038152/sioux-chief-mfg-co-inc-v-sebelius/
Last updated June 28, 2023, 3:21 a.m.
State / Territory: Missouri
Filing Date: Jan. 14, 2013
Closing Date: 2015
Case Ongoing: No
Corporation owned and run by Catholics who seek a religious exemption from the ACA's contraception coverage.
Public Interest Lawyer: Yes
Filed Pro Se: No
Class Action Sought: No
Class Action Outcome: Not sought
Causes of Action:
Prevailing Party: Plaintiff
Nature of Relief:
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