ACLJ Appeals Unjust Jury Verdict That Awarded Planned Parenthood Millions of Dollars From Pro-Lifers


Erik Zimmerman

April 8, 2021

3 min read

Pro Life



Several years ago, undercover journalists from the Center for Medical Progress (CMP) released a series of videos that documented criminal and unethical activities related to the sale of the organs and tissue of aborted babies. For example, an abortionist infamously joked, “I want a Lamborghini,” after extensive haggling over prices for specific body parts of aborted babies. Financial bonuses were offered to individuals who could harvest more valuable body parts.

The United States Senate and House both conducted their own investigations, referred numerous organizations (including Planned Parenthood affiliates) to law enforcement agencies for further investigation, and issued reports that contain extensive evidence of profiting from the sale of fetal organs, altering abortion procedures for financial gain, and other criminal and unethical acts; other government agencies reached similar conclusions.

Planned Parenthood Federation of America and several of its affiliates sued the undercover investigators, including the ACLJ’s client Troy Newman, who is a former CMP board member as well as the President of Operation Rescue. Although Planned Parenthood has publicly claimed that the lawsuit is about showing that the videos were a false “smear campaign,” they have done everything possible to avoid scrutiny of their practices during the case. (In fact, CMP has filed its own lawsuit against Planned Parenthood for claiming that the undercover videos are false.)

After several years of litigation in our case, a San Francisco jury ruled in Planned Parenthood’s favor and awarded them millions of dollars in damages. We recently filed our opening brief with the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, and asked the court to overturn the jury’s erroneous verdict.

Our brief focuses on one of the most absurd aspects of the jury's verdict: the finding that all of the undercover investigators were part of a racketeering enterprise under the federal organized crime laws (RICO). These laws were passed in the 1970s to help the federal government effectively combat powerful organized crime families and organizations, and they provide for serious criminal and financial penalties for those who violate them. As our brief explains, “undercover journalistic activities, which provide a public benefit, are not the organized crime RICO was intended to combat.”

Additionally, our brief explains how a series of decisions by the trial court violated Newman’s constitutional rights and made the trial unfair. For example, Planned Parenthood was allowed to put Newman’s Christian beliefs on trial, including his interpretation of Biblical discussions of morality and the taking of innocent life.

Think about that. Planned Parenthood was able to use our client’s Christian faith against him in court. This is just how far Planned Parenthood will go. We are insisting that our client’s constitutional rights be protected, as we also fight to protect the lives of unborn babies and those who defend them.

After Planned Parenthood responds to our brief this summer, we will be filing a reply brief. We are hopeful that the court of appeals will ultimately rule in our favor and overturn the flawed jury verdict. If not, we’re prepared to take this case all the way to the Supreme Court if necessary.