Closing arguments began in the Planned Parenthood v The Center for Medical Progress (CMP) civil trial on Tuesday. If the CMP defendants lose, they could have to pay millions of dollars in damages, punitive damages, and attorney fees to Planned Parenthood.
Judge William Orrick III, who is a Planned Parenthood supporter and helped to open a Planned Parenthood facility, began the day on Tuesday by reminding the jury that they “must solely decide the case based on the evidence” presented to them. Terrisa Bukovinac, executive director of Pro-Life San Francisco, told Live Action News that Orrick determined that CMP defendants had trespassed by attending Planned Parenthood conferences and facilities and that they could be held accountable for nominal damages such as one dollar for each act of trespassing. He told the jury that Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) could be entitled to damages if they have proven that PPFA was actually harmed by CMP and if CMP’s entry was a “substantial factor” in causing that harm.”
Bukovinac also told Live Action News that Orrick found that CMP had been in breach of contract with PPFA, saying that BioMax’s exhibits were not educational in nature and did not include information about services the company provided. He said he thinks minor nominal damages should be awarded for each breach. Orrick also told the jury that he thinks PPFA and PP Northern California were valid third-party beneficiaries to NAF contracts.
Concerning the RICO law, Orrick said it includes the production of fake IDs for illegal purposes. If the jury decided that what CMP did was illegal then they would have to pay damages for that. He added that in order to establish confidentiality, there must be a reasonable expectation of privacy. Referencing the law, he said that in California, it is legal to record conversations in order to document information about violent felonies. He then said it is possible to “find a person filmed with both a lawful and an unlawful purpose.”
As for conspiracy to commit fraud, trespass, and violate recording laws, Orrick said it was the responsibility of Planned Parenthood attorneys to show that harm was directly caused by CMP.
“He described [punitive damages] as necessary ‘to punish a wrongdoer and discourage further action’ and said it was relevant ‘if defendants acted with malice or oppression’ and had a ‘disregard of oncoming harm.’ There would need to be ‘clear and convincing evidence’ that defendants had ‘actual knowledge of the harm of their conduct’ and that they had a ‘conscious disregard for safety and life,” explained Bukovinac.
During closing arguments, CMP attorney Peter Breen reminded the jury that CMP’s undercover work “cut through a curtain of silence and concealment.” He reminded them that everything Planned Parenthood employees said during the undercover videos was their own true words and that former PPFA CEO Cecile Richards apologized to Congress regarding some of those shocking comments regarding altering abortion procedures to get intact fetuses to sell to procurement companies. There is “no challenge to the content” of the videos, he reminded the jury, and “we shouldn’t blame the messenger.” He also reminded them that PPFA knew everything they needed to know about CMP’s undercover investigation by 11 a.m. on day one.
Attorney for CMP Chuck Limandri reiterated to the jury that the CMP investigation wasn’t the first time Daleiden had done undercover work, nothing his time at Live Action. Daleiden has also done journalistic work, and Limandri said his goal with CMP was to “create controlled pressure and initiate criminal prosecution and regulatory proceedings.”
Limandri also compared CMP’s $120,000 shoestring budget to Planned Parenthood’s worth of $1 billion. He said this is “one reason Planned Parenthood go so enraged” because they were upset that they were able to be “successfully infiltrated by such a grassroots group.” He also played the Ruth Arick audiotape in which she said that abortionists are “willing to alter procedures.” Limandri called this a “risk to women” and “malpractice.” Arick also stated in the audiotape that if preborn children weren’t given digoxin before an induced abortion they were “likely to be born alive.” Understanding that there were children surviving abortions and then sold to researchers allowed Daleiden to legally record conversations with PPFA and affiliates. “If you’re doing it to save human lives, it’s fully justifiable,” Limandri argued.
Limandri also reminded the jury that Planned Parenthood’s Dr. Mary Gatter spoke about a “set fee per specimen” and said she wanted to make enough money to buy a Lamborghini. She also said on camera that the person who throws out the first number in a negotiation is at a disadvantage. “Why would you be talking in those terms if you are only recovering costs?” Limandri asked the jury.
“They’re mad because they got a black eye in the public eye,” Limandri said of Planned Parenthood.
He added that CMP “took a risk to expose injustice” and said “Planned Parenthood wants to stop it from happening again” — in other words, they want to prevent future undercover investigations from exposing any of their potentially illegal practices.
In her closing arguments, Planned Parenthood attorney Rhonda Trotter accused David Daleiden and the other CMP defendants of lying on the stand. She also claimed a conversation needs to be “listened-in-to” rather than simply “overheard” in order for the expectation of privacy to be lost. Planned Parenthood attorney Jeffrey Kamras also called the CMP defendants “liars” who need to be stopped or “they will continue.”
Closing arguments continued Wednesday morning.
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