We received wonderful news late this afternoon that the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit had granted an injunction in favor of our clients, Frank and Phil Gilardi and their two companies, preventing application of the HHS Mandate against them until their appeal is fully resolved. The Mandate was set to apply on April 1st, when the companies’ health plans were to be renewed.
The Gilardis, who are brothers, own Freshway Foods and Freshway Logistics. These Ohio-based companies process, pack, and deliver fresh produce to twenty-three states and have about 400 full-time employees. The Gilardis are Catholic, and they run their companies pursuant to their faith.
In keeping with their Catholic faith, for at least the last ten years, the Gilardis have ensured that they do not pay for any contraceptive methods, including abortion-inducing drugs, and sterilization procedures in their employee health plan. If their employees choose to purchase such products and services with their own money, they are free to do so.
The HHS Mandate, however, would require the Gilardis and their companies to pay for such products and services in violation of their Catholic faith. Failure to comply would result in annual penalties of more than $14 million dollars.
This past January, we filed a lawsuit on behalf of the Gilardis and their two companies against the federal government to prevent the application of the Mandate.
We also filed a motion for a preliminary injunction to allow our clients to continue to exclude from their health plan coverage for contraceptive methods, abortion-inducing drugs, and sterilization procedures while the case proceeded through the courts. In early March, however, the trial court denied our motion.
We immediately appealed that decision to the District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals and filed an emergency motion for an injunction pending appeal to stop the application of the Mandate before April 1st.
On March 21st, an appellate court panel of three judges, by a 2-to-1 vote, denied our emergency motion.
We then filed an emergency request that the court reconsider its ruling, grant our motion, and enter an injunction before April 1st, when the Mandate would apply to our clients.
Today, March 29th, we received an order from the appellate court. According to that order, the original three judges who had denied our emergency motion reconsidered their ruling and have now granted our clients an injunction pending appeal.
What this means is that the Mandate does not apply to our clients while their case proceeds on appeal, and they will not have to start paying for products and services on April 1st that run contrary to their religious beliefs.
We will continue to keep you posted about this and our other lawsuits challenging the Mandate.