Ammon Bundy Loses Idaho Hospital Defamation Case, Faces Millions in Fines
Bundy and his supporters must pay more than $50 million for harassing St. Luke’s Regional employees and accusing them of child trafficking.
A jury has awarded St. Luke’s Regional Health more than $50 million in the Idaho hospital’s defamation lawsuit against far-right activist Ammon Bundy.
The verdict came after a 10-day trial in which St. Luke’s successfully argued that it and its employees were defamed when Bundy and his associates accused the hospital of child trafficking. The jury also found that Bundy and his supporters had harassed St. Luke’ employees at work and at their residences.
The accusations and harassment happened in March last year when Bundy and his associates protested in person and online for several days over a child protection case involving the grandson of Diego Rodriguez, an associate of Bundy, reports the Idaho Capital Sun. The protestors and Bundy wanted the baby boy to be returned to his parents.
The child protection issue began March 4, 2022 when hospital staff determined the child was malnourished. After being hospitalized for three days, he was discharged and handed over to his parents.
However, according to Meridian Police, “During a follow-up appointment… it was determined the child had again lost a significant amount of weight and when the parents canceled the next follow-up appointment and could not be located, the Meridian Police were contacted and advised this child’s condition could lead to severe injury or even death if not treated.”
Healthcare providers are required by law to notify authorities if they think a child is in danger.
Law enforcement and child protective services repeatedly tried to reach the infant boy’s parents and asked them to bring the child back in for another exam. Police eventually were able to get the child and take him back to the hospital after conducting a traffic stop on the baby’s father’s vehicle, reports KATV.
Bundy and his followers claim the hospital “medically kidnapped” the baby, suggesting that the state and those involved in the matter were engaged in “child trafficking” for profit, reports the Associated Press. They surrounded St. Luke’s Meridian and Boise campuses, forcing them to lockdown, divert emergency patients, cancel procedures, and cancel many appointments.
The total damages awarded to St. Luke’s was $52.5 million. Bundy will be required to pay $6.2 million in compensatory damages and $6.15 million in punitive damages, while Rodriguez must pay $7 million in compensatory damages and $6.5 million in punitive damages, reports the Associated Press. The balance of the verdict must be paid by organizations associated with Bundy.
However, it’s unclear if St. Luke’s will ever get paid. NPR reports that Bundy is holed up in his home outside of Boise and claims, erroneously, that he has no assets.
During the trial, Bundy was a no-show and didn’t retain legal counsel.
If St. Luke’s receives the award, it said it would donate the money to one of its child health services organizations.
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