Planned Parenthood v. CMP: Flawed Jury Verdict Against Pro-Life Journalists Will Be Appealed
After a nearly two-month trial, on November 15th, a San Francisco jury ruled against David Daleiden, the Center for Medical Progress (CMP), its former board members, including our client, and the investigators in Planned Parenthood v. Center for Medical Progress.
This is the case filed by Planned Parenthood after CMP exposed Planned Parenthood’s horrendous abortion practices through CMP’s undercover investigation known as the Human Capital Project. The CMP videos that were made public shocked the country and led to Congressional investigations and Congressional referrals for criminal prosecutions over the sale of aborted baby body parts.
Evidence at trial included an abortion doctor admitting that they use specific techniques during abortion procedures to keep certain baby organs intact, and another stating that she “wanted a Lamborghini” as compensation for the sale of those organs. Unfortunately, however, the jury was repeatedly instructed by the Court to ignore any and all evidence of Planned Parenthood’s illegal and unethical acts, and was instead instructed to focus solely on the investigative techniques and methods used by the Defendants. The San Francisco jury ultimately found the Defendants liable to Planned Parenthood for trespass, fraud, illegal recording, breach of contract, and RICO violations. The jury entered a multi-million-dollar verdict against the Defendants.
The fight against Planned Parenthood, however, is not over. We plan to appeal this unjust verdict.
The First Amendment clearly protected the conduct of the Defendants, and courts have affirmed undercover journalists’ efforts to expose criminal practices. For example, a leading case held that the First Amendment prevents investigators from being held liable for "publication damages" from alleged torts committed without malice, which is required on defamation claims.
Defendants were exercising these same fundamental freedoms when they were exposing the crimes of Planned Parenthood. The only supposed harm that Planned Parenthood suffered was public backlash to the exposed horrific truths about their abortion practices.
This was not the first time that abortion clinics were exposed in their criminal behavior of selling fetal tissue. In fact, the well-known ABC News 20/20 exposé was even played for the jury. There, the ABC journalists went undercover with video cameras and recorded conversations with members of the abortion industry about prices of aborted baby organs.
Even though the CMP Defendants used the same recording tactics as in the 20/20 exposé, and numerous government investigations confirmed the existence of illegal and unethical practices within the abortion and fetal tissue procurement industries, the San Francisco jury ruled against them. The jury was told to ignore or give little weight to the relatively minimal evidence of such illegal acts that the Defendants were permitted to present.
Despite this temporary setback, the case is far from over. The ACLJ is not going to stop until we win this fight to protect the truth and American freedom. We ask that you stand with us as we move forward in the appellate court in this important case.