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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 more than 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, (1) O'Brien v. U.S. Dep't of Health and Human Services, 894 F.Supp.2d 1149 (E.D. Mo. 2012) or (2) Annex Medical, Inc. v. Sebelius, No. 12–2804 2013 WL 101927 (D. Minn. Jan. 8, 2013), whichever was decided first.

On February 28, 2013, the District Court (Judge Ortrie D. Smith) granted the plaintiffs' motion and stayed all proceedings until the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on the appeals in Annex or O'Brien, or until the Supreme Court issued a ruling in a substantially similar case.

On June 30, 2014, the Supreme Court issued a decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., 134 S. Ct. 2751 (2014), a substantially similar case. In a 5-4 opinion by Justice Alito, the Court held that the HHS regulations imposing the contraceptive mandate violate RFRA, when applied to closely-held for-profit corporations. 

In light of this decision, on July 15, 2014, Judge Smith issued an order lifting the stay and directing the parties to file a Joint Status Report, which the parties filed on August 18, 2014. On September 19, 2014, Judge Smith issued an order continuing the preliminary injunction and directing the parties to file a proposed injunction and judgment. On October 1, 2014, both parties filed their responses, and on October 15, 2014, each party filed its suggestions to the other party's respective response.

On November 12, 2014, Judge Smith issued an order permanently enjoining the defendants from (1) enforcing the ACA's contraceptive coverage requirement, (2) assessing any penalties or fines for noncompliance, and (3) taking any other actions based on noncompliance with the requirement.

On January 28, 2015, the plaintiffs moved for attorneys' fees, but they withdrew the motion on February 11, 2015. There has been no further action and the case now appears closed.

Tifani Sadek - 10/03/2013
Mallory Jones - 12/05/2013
Richard Jolly - 04/04/2014
Elizabeth Greiter - 11/08/2017


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Due Process
Equal Protection
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
Fines/Fees
Religious programs / policies
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Non-government for profit
Causes of Action Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. §§ 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) 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.
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
Case Closing Year 2015
Case Ongoing No
Case Listing FA-OK-0001 : Hobby Lobby v. Sebelius (W.D. Okla.)
FA-MN-0003 : Annex Medical, Inc. v. Sebelius (D. Minn.)
FA-MO-0006 : O'Brien v. HHS (E.D. Mo.)
Docket(s)
4:13−cv−00036 (W.D. Mo.)
FA-MO-0009-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 02/11/2015
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Verified Complaint [ECF# 1]
FA-MO-0009-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 01/14/2013
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Granting Preliminary Injunction [ECF# 9] (W.D. Mo.)
FA-MO-0009-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 02/28/2013
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [ECF# 19] (W.D. Mo.)
FA-MO-0009-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 11/12/2014
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Smith, Ortrie D. (W.D. Mo.)
FA-MO-0009-0002 | FA-MO-0009-0003 | FA-MO-0009-9000
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

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