University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Sioux Chief MFG. Co, Inc. v. Sebelius FA-MO-0009
Docket / Court 4:13-cv-00036-ODS ( W.D. Mo. )
State/Territory Missouri
Case Type(s) Speech and Religious Freedom
Special Collection Contraception Insurance Mandate
Case Summary
On January 14, 2013, several Catholic business owners filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri under the First Amendment, the Fifth Amendment, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act ("RFRA"), and the Administrative Procedures Act ("APA"), against the U.S. ... read more >
On January 14, 2013, several Catholic business owners filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri under the First Amendment, the Fifth Amendment, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act ("RFRA"), and the Administrative Procedures Act ("APA"), against the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services, Labor, and the Treasury. The plaintiffs, represented by the Alliance Defense Fund, asked the court for both declaratory and injunctive relief, alleging that federal rules adopted pursuant to the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act ("ACA") violated their religious freedom by requiring them to provide coverage for contraception through their companies' group health insurance plans. Claiming that providing contraceptive coverage would contravene their Catholic faith, the plaintiffs sought an exemption from the ACA's contraception mandate for themselves and other business owners with similar religious objections.

Plaintiffs, shareholders and operators of a manufacturing company that employed 370 people, maintained a health insurance plan that provided medical coverage to all of its employees. In accordance with the plaintiffs' religious beliefs, the healthcare plan specifically excluded abortifacient drugs, contraception, and sterilization. However, the ACA required employers with over 50 full-time employees to provide health insurance coverage that included contraception and surgical sterilization, as well as education and counseling for such services. Failure to comply with the ACA mandate resulted in a monetary penalties.

The complaint alleged that the defendants' actions in implementing the ACA coerced the plaintiffs and thousands of other individuals to engage in acts against their religious beliefs. Specifically, as Catholics, the plaintiffs opposed paying for, providing, facilitating, or otherwise supporting abortifacient drugs, contraception, or elective sterilization, which they claimed was compulsory under the health coverage requirements of the ACA. Plaintiffs alleged this violated their right to freely practice their religion, required them to fund government-dictated speech, and violated their rights under the RFRA and the APA.

On February 27, 2013, plaintiffs moved for a preliminary injunction to stay enforcement of DHS's regulations that required plaintiffs to provide insurance coverage for contraception and sterilization. Defendants did not oppose this motion, pending Eight Circuit Court of Appeals rulings on two similar cases, Annex Medical, Inc v. Sebelius, No 13-1118 (8th Cir. Feb. 1, 2013) and O'Brien v. U.S. Dep't of Health and Human Services, No. 12-3357 (8th Cir. Nov. 28, 2012). On February 28, 2013, the District Court (Judge Otrie D. Smith) granted plaintiffs' motion and stayed all proceedings until the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on the appeals in Annex or O'Brien.

As of December 5, 2013, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals has not ruled in either Annex or O'Brien. This case is currently still pending.

Tifani Sadek - 10/03/2013
Mallory Jones - 12/05/2013
Richard Jolly - 04/04/2014


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Equal Protection
Establishment Clause
Free Exercise Clause
Freedom of speech/association
Content of Injunction
Preliminary relief granted
Defendant-type
Hospital/Health Department
Jurisdiction-wide
Discrimination-basis
Religion discrimination
General
Contraception
Religious programs / policies
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Non-government for profit
Causes of Action Religious Freedom Rest. Act/Religious Land Use and Inst. Persons Act (RFRA/RLUIPA)
Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201
Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. ยงยง 551 et seq.
Defendant(s) Department of Health and Human Services
Department of Labor
Department of Treasury
Plaintiff Description Corporation owned and run by Catholics who seek a religious exemption from the ACA's contraception coverage.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations None on record
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Prevailing Party None Yet / None
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief None yet
Preliminary injunction / Temp. restraining order
Source of Relief None yet
Form of Settlement None on record
Order Duration not on record
Case Closing Year n/a
Case Ongoing Yes
Docket(s)
4:13−cv−00036 (W.D. Mo.) 03/01/2013
FA-MO-0009-9000.pdf | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Verified Complaint 01/14/2013
FA-MO-0009-0001.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Granting Preliminary Injunction 02/28/2013 (W.D. Mo.)
FA-MO-0009-0002.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Smith, Ortrie D. (W.D. Mo.)
FA-MO-0009-0002 | FA-MO-0009-9000
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Theriot, Kevin H. (Kansas)
FA-MO-0009-0001 | FA-MO-0009-9000
Whitehead, Jonathan R. (Missouri)
FA-MO-0009-0001 | FA-MO-0009-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Bennett, Michelle Renee (District of Columbia)
FA-MO-0009-9000
Other Lawyers None on record

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