University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
new search
page permalink
Case Name Geneva College v. Sebelius FA-PA-0005
Docket / Court 12-cv-00207 ( W.D. Pa. )
State/Territory Pennsylvania
Case Type(s) Speech and Religious Freedom
Special Collection Contraception Insurance Mandate
Case Summary
On February 21, 2012, a college organized as a not-for-profit corporation, along with its majority stakeholder, another shareholder, and two affiliated companies filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania against the federal government, under the Religious ... read more >
On February 21, 2012, a college organized as a not-for-profit corporation, along with its majority stakeholder, another shareholder, and two affiliated companies filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania against the federal government, under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), and the First and Fifth Amendments. Plaintiffs, represented by attorneys from the Alliance Defense Fund, and private counsel, sought to enjoin enforcement of provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) extending mandatory contraception coverage in employer-sponsored private health insurance coverage. Plaintiffs contended that this mandatory contraception coverage violates their sincerely held religious beliefs.

A motion by the ACLU to file an amicus brief was denied by Judge Joy Flowers Conti. On September 13, 2012, District Judge Joy Flowers Conti denied defendants' motion to stay discovery pending resolution of defendants' motion to dismiss, and on April 19, 2013, Judge Conti granted plaintiffs' motion for preliminary injunction.

On May 8, 2013, Judge Conti granted defendants' motion to dismiss in part and denied the motion to dismiss with respect to RFRA, the Free Exercise Clause, and the notice and comment claim under the APA. On May 22, 2013, plaintiffs moved for preliminary injunction. On June 17, 2013, defendants filed notice of appeal for the April 19 preliminary injunction.

On June 18, 2013, Judge Conti granted plaintiffs' motion for preliminary injunction. On August 17, 2013, defendants filed notice of appeal of the June 18 preliminary injunction. On September 12, 2013, defendants filed a motion for an indicative ruling to vacate both preliminary injunctions, which was eventually denied on October 18, 2013.

On November 12, 2013, the plaintiff filed another motion for preliminary injunction, which the District Court granted on December 23, 2013. The injunction lasted until a decision on the merits of the case.

On February 11, 2014, the defendant filed notice of appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. (No. 14-1374). On February 11, 2015, the Third Circuit (Chief Judge McKee, Circuit Judges Rendell, and Sloviter) ruled that the accommodation to the contraceptive services mandate does not impose a substantial burden on the plaintiff’s religious expression. Next, Geneva College asked for a rehearing en banc, and the Third Circuit denied the motion on April 13, 2015. On May 6, 2015, the same panel of the Third Circuit granted a temporary stay pending response by the Supreme Court in Zubik v. Burwell Zubik v. Burwell. On August 11, 2015, Geneva College filed a petition for writ of certiorari with the U.S. Supreme Court.

On November 6, 2015, the Supreme Court granted certiorari in this case. The Court planned to consider whether notifying the federal government by signing a form identifying the employer as a religious nonprofit that objects to the contraceptive services mandate (so that the government can work with the insurer or benefits provider to ensure employees have contraceptive coverage) violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, or constitutes the least restrictive means of achieving a compelling government interest. This case was consolidated with six other cases dealing with this issue. Together, the cases are known as Zubik v. Burwell.

This case was argued on March 23, 2016. On March 29, 2016, in an unusual move, the Supreme Court directed the parties to file supplemental briefs suggesting a solution to their disagreement, in which employees could still receive contraception coverage without employers giving any notice to the government. On May 16, 2016, the Court issued a per curiam order remanding all seven cases to their respective courts of appeals, ordering the lower courts to give the parties time to come to agreement on an approach that that "accommodates petitioners’ religious exercise while at the same time ensuring that women covered by petitioners’ health plans 'receive full and equal health coverage, including contraceptive coverage.'" 136 S.Ct 1557, 1560. The Court took no position on the merits of this case. This case is now in the Third Circuit for consideration on remand.

Wyatt Fore - 03/18/2013
Emma Lawton - 11/25/2013
Kate Craddock - 06/12/2016


compress summary

- click to show/hide ALL -
Issues and Causes of Action
click to show/hide detail
Issues
Constitutional Clause
Due Process
Establishment Clause
Free Exercise Clause
Freedom of speech/association
Content of Injunction
Preliminary relief granted
Defendant-type
Hospital/Health Department
Discrimination-basis
Religion discrimination
General
Abortion
Contraception
Religious programs / policies
Plaintiff Type
Non-profit religious organization
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. §§ 551 et seq.
Religious Freedom Rest. Act/Religious Land Use and Inst. Persons Act (RFRA/RLUIPA)
Defendant(s) United States Department of Health and Human Services
United States Department of Labor
United States Department of the Treasury
Plaintiff Description Plaintiffs are a Christian college (organized as a not-for-profit corporation), its majority stakeholder (Wayne Hepler), another shareholder (Carrie Kolesar), and two other corporation owned by Hepler in Pennsylvania.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations None on record
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Preliminary injunction / Temp. restraining order
Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Litigation
Form of Settlement None on record
Order Duration not on record
Case Closing Year n/a
Case Ongoing Yes
Case Listing FA-DC-0001 : Roman Catholic Archbishop of Washington v. Sebelius (D.D.C.)
FA-TX-0005 : East Texas Baptist University v. Sebelius (S.D. Tex.)
FA-CO-0006 : Little Sisters of the Poor Home for the Aged v. Sebelius (D. Colo.)
FA-OK-0005 : Southern Nazarene University v. Sebelius (W.D. Okla.)
FA-DC-0018 : Priests for Life v. Sebelius (D.D.C.)
FA-PA-0010 : Zubik v. Sebelius [II] (W.D. Pa.)
Docket(s)
2:12-cv-00207-JFC (W.D. Pa.) 05/06/2015
FA-PA-0005-9000.pdf | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Notice of Change of Firm and Email Addresses 08/09/2012
FA-PA-0005-0001.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum Opinion and Order 03/06/2013 (929 F.Supp.2d 402) (W.D. Pa.)
FA-PA-0005-0004.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [granting preliminary injunction] 04/19/2013 (W.D. Pa.)
FA-PA-0005-0005.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [conclusions of law and fact supporting the preliminary injunction] 04/19/2013 (2013 U.S.Dist.LEXIS 56087) (W.D. Pa.)
FA-PA-0005-0006.pdf | LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum Opinion and Order [reconsideration granting and denying in part motion to dismiss] 05/08/2013 (929 F.Supp.2d 402) (W.D. Pa.)
FA-PA-0005-0007.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Granting Preliminary Injunction 06/18/2013 (960 F.Supp.2d 588) (W.D. Pa.)
FA-PA-0005-0008.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Second Amended Complaint 10/18/2013
FA-PA-0005-0003.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum [denying motion for indicative ruling] 10/18/2013 (2013 WL 5704948) (W.D. Pa.)
FA-PA-0005-0009.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Geneva College's Second Motion fir Preliminary Injunction 11/12/2013
FA-PA-0005-0010.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum of Law in Support of Geneva College's Second Motion for Preliminary Injunction 11/12/2013
FA-PA-0005-0011.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law 12/23/2013 (W.D. Pa.)
FA-PA-0005-0012.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Granting Preliminary Injunction 12/23/2013 (W.D. Pa.)
FA-PA-0005-0013.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Opinion 02/11/2015 (778 F.3d 422)
FA-PA-0005-0016.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order 05/06/2015
FA-PA-0005-0017.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Supreme Court Order Granting Certiorari 11/06/2015 (136 S.Ct. 444)
FA-PA-0005-0015.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Document Source: Supreme Court website
Opinion 05/16/2016 (136 S.Ct. 1557)
FA-PA-0005-0018.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Conti, Joy Flowers (W.D. Pa.)
FA-PA-0005-0004 | FA-PA-0005-0005 | FA-PA-0005-0006 | FA-PA-0005-0007 | FA-PA-0005-0008 | FA-PA-0005-0009 | FA-PA-0005-0012 | FA-PA-0005-0013 | FA-PA-0005-9000
Rendell, Marjorie O. (Third Circuit, E.D. Pa.)
FA-PA-0005-0016 | FA-PA-0005-0017
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Aden, Steven H. (Virginia)
FA-PA-0005-0001 | FA-PA-0005-0003 | FA-PA-0005-9000
Baylor, Gregory S. (District of Columbia)
FA-PA-0005-0001 | FA-PA-0005-0003 | FA-PA-0005-0010 | FA-PA-0005-0011 | FA-PA-0005-9000
Bowman, Matthew S. (District of Columbia)
FA-PA-0005-0001 | FA-PA-0005-0003 | FA-PA-0005-9000
Mongillo, David J. (Pennsylvania)
FA-PA-0005-0003 | FA-PA-0005-9000
Stanley, Erik William (Kansas)
FA-PA-0005-0001 | FA-PA-0005-0003 | FA-PA-0005-9000
Theriot, Kevin H. (Kansas)
FA-PA-0005-0001 | FA-PA-0005-0003 | FA-PA-0005-9000
Tupi, Bradley S. (Pennsylvania)
FA-PA-0005-0003 | FA-PA-0005-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Comber, Michael A. (Pennsylvania)
FA-PA-0005-9000
Grogg, Adam Anderson (District of Columbia)
FA-PA-0005-9000
Humphreys, Bradley Philip (District of Columbia)
FA-PA-0005-9000
Schollaert, Albert W. (Pennsylvania)
FA-PA-0005-9000
Womack, Eric R. (District of Columbia)
FA-PA-0005-9000
Other Lawyers Amiri, Brigitte A. (New York)
FA-PA-0005-9000
Cortman, David A. (Georgia)
FA-PA-0005-0001 | FA-PA-0005-0003 | FA-PA-0005-9000
Walczak, Witold J. (Pennsylvania)
FA-PA-0005-9000

- click to show/hide ALL -

new search
page permalink

- top of page -