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Case Name Franciscan Alliance, LLC v. Burwell PB-TX-0012
Docket / Court 7:16-cv-00108-O ( N.D. Tex. )
State/Territory Texas
Case Type(s) Public Benefits / Government Services
Speech and Religious Freedom
Case Summary
On August 23, 2016, religiously-affiliated health organizations and states filed this lawsuit in the Northern District of Texas. The plaintiffs sued Sylvia Burwell, Secretary of Health and Human Services, and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) under the Administrative Procedure Act ... read more >
On August 23, 2016, religiously-affiliated health organizations and states filed this lawsuit in the Northern District of Texas. The plaintiffs sued Sylvia Burwell, Secretary of Health and Human Services, and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) under the Administrative Procedure Act and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act claiming violations of these acts as well as their Article I, First, Fifth, Tenth, and Eleventh Amendment rights. The plaintiffs claimed that new regulations promulgated by HHS, which redefines the word "sex" to include gender identity, stereotypes, and termination of pregnancy, requires health care providers to provide health programs and procedures which "violate their medical judgment" and "their deeply held religious beliefs" (including performing/referring transition procedures, discussing transition procedures as current standards of care, using appropriate gender-transition affirming language, providing sex-specific facilities based on gender identity, etc.).

The plaintiffs, represented by public interest and government counsel, sought declaratory, injunctive, and monetary relief. Specifically, the plaintiffs asked the court to declare the regulations invalid, enjoin enforcement of the regulations, and award actual and nominal damages as well as the costs of the action and attorney fees. Plaintiffs requested a jury trial.

On September 16, 2016, the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas and the River City Gender Alliance (collectively, "putative intervenors") filed a motion to intervene as defendants. On October 21, 2016, plaintiffs filed a partial motion for summary judgment and, in the alternative, a motion for preliminary injunction. On November 1, 2016, District Judge Reed O'Connor denied the putative intervenors' motion to stay preliminary injunction proceedings pending resolution of intervention.

A hearing was held on December 20, 2016, and Judge O'Connor granted the preliminary injunction on December 31, 2016 on the grounds that "the regulation violates the Administrative Procedure Act ('APA') by contradicting existing law and exceeding statutory authority, and the regulation likely violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act ('RFRA') as applied to Private Plaintiffs." The court did not consider the motions for summary judgment at this time. 227 F.Supp.3d 660.

Defendants filed to stay the court's preliminary injunction, but the stay was denied on January 24, 2017. Furthermore, Judge O'Connor found that the putative intervenors could not intervene as of right because it was yet unclear whether the defendants would adequately represent the putative intervenors' interests; he deferred ruling on the putative intervenors request for permissive intervention.

On January 30, 2017, the putative intervenors filed an interlocutory appeal to the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. On June 30, 2017, a panel of the Fifth Circuit, per curiam, dismissed the appeal because the district court had not ruled on the putative intervenors' motion for permissive intervention and therefore had not conclusively resolved the intervention issue.

On May 2, 2017, while the putative intervenors' appeal to the Fifth Circuit was pending, the defendants filed a motion for voluntary remand and stay, arguing that HHS should be given the opportunity to reconsider the regulation at issue in this case, which would conserve the resources of both parties and the court. On July 10, 2017, Judge O'Connor declined to remand the case, but imposed a stay of all proceedings while HHS reconsidered the regulation. He also ordered the defendants to file a status report on or before August 4, 2017, identifying any rulemaking proceedings initiated with respect to the challenged regulation. Furthermore, he clarified that the December 31, 2016, preliminary injunction order would be unaffected by the stay and would remain in full force and effect throughout the stay.

On August 4, 2017, the defendants filed a status report indicating that "a draft of a proposed rule is going through the clearance process within the Executive Branch." On August 16, 2017, Judge O'Connor ordered the defendants to file another status report on or before October 16, 2017, and every 60 days thereafter. After multiple additional status reports, the parties filed a joint motion to lift the stay on December 17, 2018, which Judge O'Connor granted.

The parties resumed litigating the case, with the plaintiffs renewing their motions for summary judgment on February 4, 2019. On March 21, 2019, the plaintiff State of Wisconsin requested an order from the court dismissing it from the case because it "no longer has an interest in pursuing its claims."

The case is still ongoing.

Rachel Barr - 02/20/2017
Lisa Limb - 03/22/2019


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Benefit Source
Medicaid
Medicare
Constitutional Clause
Due Process
Federalism
Free Exercise Clause
Freedom of speech/association
Content of Injunction
Preliminary relief granted
Defendant-type
Jurisdiction-wide
Discrimination-basis
Gender identity
General
Abortion
Gay/lesbian/transgender
Religious programs / policies
Medical/Mental Health
Reproductive health care (including birth control, abortion, and others)
Plaintiff Type
Non-profit religious organization
State Plaintiff
Causes of Action Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. ยงยง 551 et seq.
Religious Freedom Rest. Act/Religious Land Use and Inst. Persons Act (RFRA/RLUIPA)
Defendant(s) United States of America
Plaintiff Description States and religious organizations
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party None Yet / None
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Preliminary injunction / Temp. restraining order
Source of Relief Litigation
Filing Year 2016
Case Ongoing Yes
Additional Resources
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Docket(s)
7:16-cv-00108-O (N.D. Tex.)
PB-TX-0012-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/21/2019
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint [ECF# 1]
PB-TX-0012-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/23/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
First Amended Complaint [ECF# 21]
PB-TX-0012-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 10/17/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [ECF# 62] (227 F.Supp.3d 660) (N.D. Tex.)
PB-TX-0012-0003.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 12/31/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [ECF# 69] (2017 WL 2964088) (N.D. Tex.)
PB-TX-0012-0004.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 01/24/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [ECF# 105] (2017 WL 3616652) (N.D. Tex.)
PB-TX-0012-0006.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 07/10/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [ECF# 126] (N.D. Tex.)
PB-TX-0012-0005.pdf | Detail
Date: 12/17/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges O'Connor, Reed Charles (N.D. Tex.) show/hide docs
PB-TX-0012-0003 | PB-TX-0012-0004 | PB-TX-0012-0005 | PB-TX-0012-0006 | PB-TX-0012-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Barclay, Stephanie Hall (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PB-TX-0012-9000
Goodrich, Luke W. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PB-TX-0012-0001 | PB-TX-0012-9000
Hacker, David J. (Texas) show/hide docs
PB-TX-0012-9000
Kilpatrick, Steven Carl (Wisconsin) show/hide docs
PB-TX-0012-9000
Nimocks, Austin R. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PB-TX-0012-0001 | PB-TX-0012-0002 | PB-TX-0012-9000
Rienzi, Mark (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PB-TX-0012-9000
Toth, Michael C. (Texas) show/hide docs
PB-TX-0012-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Amiri, Brigitte A. (New York) show/hide docs
PB-TX-0012-9000
Block, Joshua A (New York) show/hide docs
PB-TX-0012-9000
Cohn, Kali Alanna (Texas) show/hide docs
PB-TX-0012-9000
Esseks, James Dixon (New York) show/hide docs
PB-TX-0012-9000
Grogg, Adam Anderson (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PB-TX-0012-9000
Hauss, Brian M. (New York) show/hide docs
PB-TX-0012-9000
Heaps, Bailey Wilson (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PB-TX-0012-9000
Kaley, Lindsey (New York) show/hide docs
PB-TX-0012-9000
Mach, Daniel (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PB-TX-0012-9000 | PB-TX-0012-9000
Melling, Louise (New York) show/hide docs
PB-TX-0012-9000
Miller, Amy A. (Nebraska) show/hide docs
PB-TX-0012-9000
Nestler, Emily B. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PB-TX-0012-9000
Robertson, Rebecca Lynn (Texas) show/hide docs
PB-TX-0012-9000

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