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Case Name Mersino v. Sebelius FA-MI-0012
Docket / Court 2:13-cv-11296 ( E.D. Mich. )
Additional Docket(s) 13-1944  [ 13-1944 ]
State/Territory Michigan
Case Type(s) Speech and Religious Freedom
Special Collection Contraception Insurance Mandate
Case Summary
On March 22, 2013, a for-profit company filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the Administrative Procedure Act and the First Amendment against the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The ... read more >
On March 22, 2013, a for-profit company filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the Administrative Procedure Act and the First Amendment against the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The plaintiffs, represented in part by the public interest firm Thomas More Law Center, asked the court for an exception to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) mandate requiring employers to provide health insurance coverage of contraception. Specifically, the plaintiffs claimed that providing insurance coverage of contraception would violate the deeply held religious beliefs of the corporation's owners. The case was assigned to Judge Paul D. Borman.

On May 7, 2013, the plaintiffs filed a motion for a temporary restraining order to enjoin the enforcement of the mandate, which was to begin to apply to the plaintiff's group health plan on June 1, 2013. The ACLU of Michigan filed an amicus brief in support of the defendants' opposition to the plaintiffs' motion for a preliminary injunction on May 23, 2013. On July 11, 2013, United States District Court denied the plaintiffs' motion for temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction. 2013 WL 3546702. The same day, the plaintiffs filed an appeal with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit (No. 13-1944). On July 17, 2013, the parties filed a joint motion to stay the district court proceedings pending the appeal. The District Court granted that motion on July 31, 2013.

On June 30, 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court decided Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, holding that the HHS regulations imposing the contraceptive mandate violate RFRA when applied to closely-held for-profit corporations.

In this case in the Sixth Circuit, the plaintiffs had moved for an injunction pending appeal. In the week following the Hobby Lobby the parties met twice, and the government withdrew its opposition to the injunctive relief. On July 9, 2014, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit (Judges Alice Batchelder, Danny Boggs, and Eric Clay) granted the plaintiffs' motion for an injunction pending appeal: the contraceptive mandate would not apply to the plaintiffs pending the appeal.

On January 28, 2015, the Sixth Circuit reversed the District Court's July 11, 2013 denial of the plaintiffs' motion for a preliminary injunction and remanded the case for further proceedings. The order noted that in light of the Supreme Court's decision in Hobby Lobby, the government agreed with the plaintiffs that the District Court's denial of the preliminary injunction should be reversed. 2015 WL 9850709.

On February 4, 2015, Judge Borman reopened the case in the district court and, based on Hobby Lobby, entered judgment in favor of the plaintiffs on their claim under RFRA, dismissing all other claims against the defendants, and enjoining the government from enforcing the contraceptive coverage requirement against the plaintiffs. The plaintiffs notified the court that the parties had reached agreement as to attorney's fees on May 12, 2015. The case is now closed.

Mallory Jones - 03/31/2014
Edward Mroczkowski - 02/02/2015
Sarah McDonald - 08/12/2018


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Due Process
Establishment Clause
Free Exercise Clause
Freedom of speech/association
Content of Injunction
Discrimination Prohibition
Preliminary relief denied
Preliminary relief granted
Defendant-type
Hospital/Health Department
Discrimination-basis
Religion discrimination
General
Abortion
Contraception
Plaintiff Type
Closely-held (for profit) corporation
Type of Facility
Non-government for profit
Causes of Action Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. ยงยง 551 et seq.
Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201
Religious Freedom Rest. Act/Religious Land Use and Inst. Persons Act (RFRA/RLUIPA)
Defendant(s) U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
U.S. Department of Labor
U.S. Department of the Treasury
Plaintiff Description A for-profit company that believes the Affordable Care Act's contraception insurance mandate violates the owner's religious freedom
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Preliminary injunction / Temp. restraining order
Attorneys fees
Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Litigation
Order Duration 2015 - n/a
Filing Year 2013
Case Closing Year 2015
Case Ongoing No
Docket(s)
2:13−cv−11296 (E.D. Mich.)
FA-MI-0012-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/12/2015
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint [ECF# 1]
FA-MI-0012-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/22/2013
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Plaintiffs' Motion for Temporary Restraining Order and Preliminary Injunction [ECF# 8]
FA-MI-0012-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/07/2013
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Defendants' Memorandum in Opposition to Plaintiffs' Motion for a Temporary Restraining Order and Preliminary Injunction [ECF# 16]
FA-MI-0012-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/23/2013
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Plaintiffs' Reply to Defendants' Opposition to Plaintiffs' Motion for Preliminary Injunction [ECF# 19]
FA-MI-0012-0004.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/24/2013
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Opinion and Order Denying Plaintiffs' Motion for Temporary Restraining Order and Preliminary Injunction [ECF# 29] (2013 WL 3546702) (E.D. Mich.)
FA-MI-0012-0005.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 07/11/2013
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Joint Motion to Stay District Court Proceedings Pending Appeal [ECF# 32]
FA-MI-0012-0006.pdf | Detail
Date: 07/17/2013
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Granting Joint Motion to Stay District Court Proceedings Pending Appeal [ECF# 33] (E.D. Mich.)
FA-MI-0012-0007.pdf | Detail
Date: 07/31/2013
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [Ct. of App. ECF# 35]
FA-MI-0012-0008.pdf | Detail
Date: 07/09/2014
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Injunction and Judgment [ECF# 37] (E.D. Mich.)
FA-MI-0012-0009.pdf | Detail
Date: 02/04/2015
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Batchelder, Alice Moore (N.D. Ohio, Sixth Circuit)
FA-MI-0012-0008
Boggs, Danny Julian (Sixth Circuit)
FA-MI-0012-0008
Borman, Paul D. (E.D. Mich.)
FA-MI-0012-0005 | FA-MI-0012-0007 | FA-MI-0012-0009 | FA-MI-0012-9000
Clay, Eric L. (Sixth Circuit)
FA-MI-0012-0008
Whalen, R. Steven (E.D. Mich.) [Magistrate]
FA-MI-0012-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Mersino, Erin Elizabeth (Michigan)
FA-MI-0012-0001 | FA-MI-0012-0002 | FA-MI-0012-0004 | FA-MI-0012-0006 | FA-MI-0012-9000
Thompson, Richard (Michigan)
FA-MI-0012-0001 | FA-MI-0012-0002
Defendant's Lawyers Berwick, Benjamin Leon (District of Columbia)
FA-MI-0012-9000
Delery, Stuart F. (District of Columbia)
FA-MI-0012-0003 | FA-MI-0012-0006
Gershengorn, Ian Heath (District of Columbia)
FA-MI-0012-0003 | FA-MI-0012-0006
Humphreys, Bradley Philip (District of Columbia)
FA-MI-0012-0003 | FA-MI-0012-0006 | FA-MI-0012-9000
Lieber, Sheila M. (District of Columbia)
FA-MI-0012-0003 | FA-MI-0012-0006
McQuade, Barbara L. (Michigan)
FA-MI-0012-0003 | FA-MI-0012-0006
Ricketts, Jennifer (District of Columbia)
FA-MI-0012-0003 | FA-MI-0012-0006
Other Lawyers Lee, Jennifer (New York)
FA-MI-0012-9000
Mach, Daniel (District of Columbia)
FA-MI-0012-9000
Steinberg, Michael J. (Michigan)
FA-MI-0012-9000

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