University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name C.W. Zumbeil v. Sebelius FA-DC-0014
Docket / Court 13-cv-01611 ( D.D.C. )
State/Territory District of Columbia
Case Type(s) Speech and Religious Freedom
Special Collection Contraception Insurance Mandate
Case Summary
This is one of many lawsuits brought challenging the Obama administration's 2012 Health and Human Services (HHS) mandate requiring employers to pay for employees' contraception and abortifacients via medical insurance coverage. Many religious hospitals, charities, universities, and other ... read more >
This is one of many lawsuits brought challenging the Obama administration's 2012 Health and Human Services (HHS) mandate requiring employers to pay for employees' contraception and abortifacients via medical insurance coverage. Many religious hospitals, charities, universities, and other enterprises owned or controlled by religious organizations or individuals who opposed contraception on doctrinal grounds, argued the mandate violated their religious beliefs. For a full list of these cases please see our collection of the Contraception Insurance Mandate cases here.

On October 22, 2013, a for-profit company filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the District of D.C. under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the First Amendment, and the Administrative Procedure Act against the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The plaintiff, represented in part by the public interest firm American Center for Law and Justice, asked the court for an exception to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) mandate requiring employers to provide health insurance coverage of contraception. Specifically, the plaintiff claimed that providing insurance coverage of contraception would violate the deeply held religious beliefs of the corporation's owners.

On November 27, 2013, United States District Court (Judge Reggie B. Walton) granted the plaintiff's unopposed motion for preliminary injunction and stayed the case. The Court ordered the defendant not to enforce the ACA insurance mandate regarding contraception against the plaintiff until 30 days after the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled in Gilardi v. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services , which involved similar legal issues and the same defendant as this case.

On November 1, 2013, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled in Gilardi that the ACA's contraception insurance mandate likely violated the free exercise clause of the Constitution. It therefore reversed the District Court's denial of a preliminary injunction against the defendant in that case. On November 6, 2013, a petition for certiorari was filed in the Gilardi case. The Supreme Court docketed the case on January 30, 2014.

On June 30, 2014, the Supreme Court released its decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores Inc., 134 S. Ct.2751 (2014) (FA-OK-0001 in this Clearinghouse), a case with substantially similar facts. There, the Court held that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) permits for-profit corporations that are closely held (e.g., owned by a family or family trust) to refuse, on religious grounds, to pay for legally mandated coverage of certain contraceptive drugs and devices in their employees’ health insurance plans.

In light of the Hobby Lobby decision, on October 24, 2014, the parties submitted a joint motion to the District Court. They agreed that judgment should be entered in favor of plaintiff on their Religious Freedom Restoration Act claim, that a permanent injunction should be entered, and that all other claims against the defendant should be dismissed. They also agreed that the issue of plaintiff's attorneys’ fees and costs would be resolved after the judgement was entered.

The court adopted the parties' proposed permanent injunction on November 3, 2014. The defendant was enjoined from enforcing the “Contraceptive Coverage Requirement,” that required the plaintiff to provide its employees with health coverage for contraceptive methods, sterilization procedures, and related patient education and counseling to which the plaintiff objected on religious grounds. It also barred defendant from taking any actions against plaintiff for noncompliance with the "Contraception Coverage Requirement." The only issue left open was attorneys' fees.

The parties reached an undisclosed agreement regarding attorneys' fees on March 17, 2015, and asked the court to close the case. The case is now closed.

Mallory Jones - 03/31/2014
Michael Beech - 04/04/2019


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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
Discrimination-area
Pay / Benefits
Discrimination-basis
Religion discrimination
General
Contraception
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) 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
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
Declaratory Judgment
Attorneys fees
Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Private Settlement Agreement
Filing Year 2013
Case Closing Year 2015
Case Ongoing No
Case Listing FA-DC-0004 : Gilardi v. Dep't of Health and Human Services [Gilardi v. Sebelius] (D.D.C.)
Additional Resources
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  See this case at CourtListener.com (May provide additional documents and, for active cases, real-time alerts)
Docket(s)
1:13-cv-01611 (D.D.C.)
FA-DC-0014-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/17/2015
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief [ECF# 1]
FA-DC-0014-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 10/22/2013
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Plaintiffs' Unopposed Motion for Preliminary injunction and Stay of Proceedings [ECF# 15]
FA-DC-0014-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 11/25/2013
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Permanent Injunction and Judgment [ECF# 19] (D.D.C.)
FA-DC-0014-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 11/03/2014
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Walton, Reggie B. (FISC, D.D.C.) show/hide docs
FA-DC-0014-0003 | FA-DC-0014-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Dickerson, James M. (Ohio) show/hide docs
FA-DC-0014-9000
Hayden, Mark T. (Ohio) show/hide docs
FA-DC-0014-0001 | FA-DC-0014-0002 | FA-DC-0014-9000
Lawless, Matthew D. (Ohio) show/hide docs
FA-DC-0014-0001 | FA-DC-0014-9000
May, Colby M. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
FA-DC-0014-0001 | FA-DC-0014-9000
Nalbandian, John Baylor (Ohio) show/hide docs
FA-DC-0014-0001 | FA-DC-0014-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Bennett, Michelle Renee (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
FA-DC-0014-9000

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