University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Williams v. Sebelius FA-DC-0012
Docket / Court 1:13-cv-01699-RLW ( D.D.C. )
State/Territory District of Columbia
Case Type(s) Speech and Religious Freedom
Special Collection Contraception Insurance Mandate
Case Summary
On October 30, 2013, three business owners and their businesses filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. The plaintiffs sued the federal government under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), the First Amendment, and the Administrative Procedure Act (APA). ... read more >
On October 30, 2013, three business owners and their businesses filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. The plaintiffs sued the federal government under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), the First Amendment, and the Administrative Procedure Act (APA). The plaintiffs, represented by the Thomas More Law Center, asked the court to issue both a preliminary and permanent injunction prohibiting enforcement of provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) extending universal contraception coverage to employer-sponsored private health insurance coverage. Specifically, the plaintiffs contended that they operate their business pursuant to their faith in God and that compliance with the contraception coverage requirement is a substantial burden on their religious exercise.

On November 15, 2013, the plaintiffs filed an unopposed motion for a preliminary injunction and an unopposed motion to stay the proceedings until thirty days after the substantially similar contraception mandate issues are settled by the Gilardi v. U.S. Dep't of Health and Human Servs. appeal. The court granted the motion on November 19, 2013.

On November 5, 2014, following the Supreme Court's decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, which held that closely-held for-profit corporations should have access to the contraception mandate accommodation, the District Court entered a permanent injunction against enforcement of the contraceptive services mandate and related fines against the plaintiffs. The Court entered judgment for the plaintiffs on their RFRA claim, dismissed all other claims, and instructed the parties to meet and confer on attorney's fees and costs. On January 7, 2015, the parties notified the court that they had come to an agreement on attorney's fees and costs and that no further proceedings were necessary.

Richard Jolly - 03/05/2014
Kate Craddock - 02/13/2016


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Establishment Clause
Free Exercise Clause
Freedom of speech/association
Content of Injunction
Preliminary relief denied
Defendant-type
Hospital/Health Department
Discrimination-basis
Religion discrimination
General
Contraception
Religious programs / policies
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action Religious Freedom Rest. Act/Religious Land Use and Inst. Persons Act (RFRA/RLUIPA)
Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. ยงยง 551 et seq.
Defendant(s) United States Department of Health and Human Services
United States Department of Labor
United States Department of Treasury
Plaintiff Description Three business owners who claim to follow and operate their businesses in accordance with the teachings of the Catholic faith.
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 Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Litigation
Form of Settlement None on record
Order Duration not on record
Case Closing Year 2015
Case Ongoing No
Docket(s)
1:13-cv-01699 (D.D.C.) 09/10/2014
FA-DC-0012-9000.pdf | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint 10/30/2013
FA-DC-0012-0002.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order (Granting Plaintiffs' Motion) 11/19/2013 (D.D.C.)
FA-DC-0012-0001.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order 11/05/2014 (D.D.C.)
FA-DC-0012-0003.pdf | Detail
Judges Cooper, Christopher Reid (D.D.C.)
FA-DC-0012-0003 | FA-DC-0012-9000
Wilkins, Robert Leon (D.D.C., D.C. Circuit)
FA-DC-0012-0001
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Bennett, Michelle Renee (District of Columbia)
FA-DC-0012-9000
Mersino, Erin Elizabeth (Michigan)
FA-DC-0012-0002 | FA-DC-0012-9000
Defendant's Lawyers None on record
Other Lawyers None on record

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