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Case Name Reaching Souls International Inc. v. Sebelius FA-OK-0002
Docket / Court 5:13-cv-01092-D ( W.D. Okla. )
State/Territory Oklahoma
Case Type(s) Speech and Religious Freedom
Special Collection Contraception Insurance Mandate
Case Summary
On October 11, 2013, a non-profit company filed a lawsuit in the Western District of Oklahoma under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, Administrative Procedure Act and First Amendment against the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The plaintiff, represented by the public interest ... read more >
On October 11, 2013, a non-profit company filed a lawsuit in the Western District of Oklahoma under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, Administrative Procedure Act and First Amendment against the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The plaintiff, represented by the public interest firm The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, asked the court for an exception to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) mandate requiring employers to provide health insurance coverage for contraception. The plaintiff is suing on behalf of all non-profit, Christian-owned corporations that participate in a health plan provided by GuideStone Financial Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention. These corporations do not already qualify for the religious exception for the ACA's contraception insurance mandate.

On October 25, 2013, the plaintiff filed a motion for preliminary injunction for all similarly-situated corporations, which was granted by United States District Court (Judge Timothy D. DeGiusti) on December 20, 2013. Judge DeGiusti relied on the U.S. Court of Appeals 10th Circuit decision Hobby Lobby v. Sebelius v. Sebelius in granting the motion for preliminary injunction.

In the same order, Judge DeGiusti denied the defendants' motion to dismiss. The plaintiffs had filed a request for class certification in the event the preliminary injunction was denied; as the court granted the preliminary injunction, the motion for class certification was denied as moot on December 23, 2013.

On February 11, 2014, the defendants appealed the Judge DeGiusti's December 20, 2013 order granting the plaintiff's preliminary injunction and denying the defendants' motion to dismiss to the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit. On March 26, 2014, the district court stayed proceedings pending the appeal.

On March 31, 2014, the Tenth Circuit declined to consolidate this case with two others before it, Southern Nazarene University v. Sebelius and Little Sisters of the Poor Home for the Aged v. Sebelius, on the government's request. However, on July 14, 2015, the Tenth Circuit (Judges Scott M. Matheson, Monroe G. McKay, and Bobby R. Baldock, dissenting in part) issued an opinion addressing all three cases. Little Sister of the Poor Home for the Aged v. Sebelius, 794 F.3d 1151 (10th Cir. 2015). The court found that the accommodation scheme under the ACA relieves Plaintiffs of their obligations under the Mandate and does not substantially burden their religious exercise under RFRA or infringe upon their First Amendment rights. It therefore reversed the district court's grant of a preliminary injunction to the plaintiffs, and remanded the case to the district court.

The Tenth Circuit's decision reversing the preliminary injunction was vacated and remanded by the U.S. Supreme Court in Zubik v. Burwell, 136 S. Ct. 1557 (2016). In Zubik, the Supreme Court had 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.

After a change in administrations, the defendants moved without opposition for voluntary dismissal and Tenth Circuit dismissed the appeal on October 23, 2017. Back in the district court, the issued status reports indicating they had entered into settlement negotiations with the new Trump administration. On February 16, 2018, the plaintiffs moved for the court to convert the preliminary injunction into a permanent injunction and declaratory relief. The motion stated that the government had now admitted that the mandate violates RFRA.

The court (Judge DeGiusti) entered declaratory relief and issued a permanent injunction on March 15, 2018, enjoining the defendants from "any effort to apply or enforce the substantive requirements of 42 U.S.C. § 300gg-13(a)(4) and any implementing regulations as those requirements relate to the provision of contraceptive drugs, devices, or procedures and related education and counseling to which Plaintiffs have sincerely-held religious objections, and are enjoined and restrained from pursuing, charging, or assessing penalties, fines, assessments, or other enforcement actions for noncompliance related thereto." 2018 WL 1352186. A final judgment was entered in the case on July 17, 2018, with judgment in favor of the plaintiffs on the RFRA claim and any of the plaintiffs' remaining claims dismissed without prejudice.

On August 30, 2018, the plaintiffs filed an unopposed motion for an extension of time to file a bill of costs and motion for attorneys fees. The court granted this on August 31, 2018. As of September 10. 2018, there have been no further updates to the docket.

Mallory Jones - 01/28/2014
Sarah McDonald - 08/13/2018


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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
Discrimination Prohibition
Preliminary relief granted
Defendant-type
Hospital/Health Department
Discrimination-basis
Religion discrimination
General
Contraception
Religious programs / policies
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Non-government non-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) U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
U.S. Department of Labor
U.S. Department of the Treasury
Plaintiff Description Christian, non-profit employers who participate in the GuideStone Plan to provide health benefits to their employees
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Moot
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Preliminary injunction / Temp. restraining order
Declaratory Judgment
Attorneys fees
Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Litigation
Filing Year 2013
Case Closing Year 2018
Case Ongoing Yes
Case Listing FA-CO-0006 : Little Sisters of the Poor Home for the Aged v. Sebelius (D. Colo.)
Docket(s)
5:13-cv-01092 (W.D. Okla.)
FA-OK-0002-9001.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/31/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Class Action Complaint [ECF# 1]
FA-OK-0002-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 10/11/2013
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Plainiffs' Motion for Preliminary Injunction Request for Expedited Consideration and Brief in Support [ECF# 7]
FA-OK-0002-0006.pdf | Detail
Date: 10/25/2013
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Defendants' Memorandum in Support of Motion to Dismiss or in the Alternative, for Summary Judgment and Defendants' Memorandum in Opposition to Plaintiffs' Motion for Preliminary Injunction [ECF# 50]
FA-OK-0002-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 11/15/2013
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Defendants' Motion to Dismiss or, in the alternative, for Summary Judgment and Memorandum in Support and Defendants' Memorandum in Opposition to Plaintiffs' Motion for Preliminary Injunction [ECF# 51]
FA-OK-0002-0004.pdf | Detail
Date: 11/15/2013
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Plaintiffs' Combined Reply in Support of Preliminary Injunction and Opposition to Defendants' Motion to Dismiss and Motion for Summary Judgment [ECF# 56]
FA-OK-0002-0005.pdf | Detail
Date: 11/27/2013
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Defendants' Reply in Support of Motion to Dismiss or, in the alternative, for Summary Judgment [ECF# 59]
FA-OK-0002-0007.pdf | Detail
Date: 12/06/2013
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum Decision and Order [ECF# 67] (2013 WL 6804259) (W.D. Okla.)
FA-OK-0002-0001.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 12/20/2013
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Opinion [Ct. of App. ECF# 140] (794 F.3d 1151)
FA-OK-0002-0008.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 07/16/2015
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Opinion (136 S.Ct. 1557)
FA-OK-0002-0010.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 05/16/2016
Source: Google Scholar
Order Granting Preliminary Injunction and Declaratory Relief [ECF# 95] (2018 WL 1352186) (W.D. Okla.)
FA-OK-0002-0009.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 03/15/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges DeGiusti, Timothy D. (W.D. Okla.)
FA-OK-0002-0001 | FA-OK-0002-0009 | FA-OK-0002-9001
Plaintiff's Lawyers Blomberg, Daniel Howard (District of Columbia)
FA-OK-0002-0002 | FA-OK-0002-0005 | FA-OK-0002-0006 | FA-OK-0002-9001
Curran, J Dillion (Oklahoma)
FA-OK-0002-0005 | FA-OK-0002-9001
Giddens, Jared D (Oklahoma)
FA-OK-0002-0002 | FA-OK-0002-0005 | FA-OK-0002-0006 | FA-OK-0002-9001
Keim, Adele A. (District of Columbia)
FA-OK-0002-0002 | FA-OK-0002-0005 | FA-OK-0002-0006 | FA-OK-0002-9001
Rienzi, Mark (District of Columbia)
FA-OK-0002-0002 | FA-OK-0002-0005 | FA-OK-0002-0006 | FA-OK-0002-9001
Roberts, Seth Michael (Texas)
FA-OK-0002-0002 | FA-OK-0002-0005 | FA-OK-0002-0006 | FA-OK-0002-9001
Scherz, Carl C. (Texas)
FA-OK-0002-0002 | FA-OK-0002-0005 | FA-OK-0002-0006 | FA-OK-0002-9001
Defendant's Lawyers Bennett, Michelle Renee (District of Columbia)
FA-OK-0002-9001
Berwick, Benjamin Leon (District of Columbia)
FA-OK-0002-0003 | FA-OK-0002-0004 | FA-OK-0002-0007 | FA-OK-0002-9001
Coats, Sanford (District of Columbia)
FA-OK-0002-0003 | FA-OK-0002-0004 | FA-OK-0002-0007
Delery, Stuart F. (District of Columbia)
FA-OK-0002-0003 | FA-OK-0002-0004 | FA-OK-0002-0007
Lieber, Sheila M. (District of Columbia)
FA-OK-0002-0003 | FA-OK-0002-0004 | FA-OK-0002-0007
Ricketts, Jennifer (District of Columbia)
FA-OK-0002-0003 | FA-OK-0002-0004 | FA-OK-0002-0007

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