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Case Name Robinson v. Marshall PB-AL-0019
Docket / Court 2:19-cv-00365-MHT-JTA ( M.D. Ala. )
Additional Docket(s) 20-11401-B  [ 20-11401 ]  Federal Court of Appeals
State/Territory Alabama
Case Type(s) Public Benefits / Government Services
Special Collection COVID-19 (novel coronavirus)
Planned Parenthood Litigation
Attorney Organization ACLU Chapters (any)
ACLU National (all projects)
Case Summary
COVID-19 Summary: In response to the COVID-19 crisis, on March 27, 2020 the State Public Health Officer issued an emergency order restricting any medical or surgical procedure except those necessary to treat an “emergency medical condition,” including abortion. On March 30, the plaintiffs ... read more >
COVID-19 Summary: In response to the COVID-19 crisis, on March 27, 2020 the State Public Health Officer issued an emergency order restricting any medical or surgical procedure except those necessary to treat an “emergency medical condition,” including abortion. On March 30, the plaintiffs challenged the Order and requested an emergency temporary restraining order (TRO) and preliminary injunction to block enforcement. The court granted a limited TRO. On April 12, the court granted the preliminary injunction in part. The defendants appealed the preliminary injunction to the Eleventh Circuit. On May 5, the parties submitted a joint motion to the Eleventh Circuit to dismiss the appeal of the preliminary injunction, which was granted the same day. The parties agreed that the preliminary injunction has become moot as it was tied to the "medical restrictions" language, which had since been lifted. The court ordered the preliminary injunction to be dissolved as moot on May 18. The case is ongoing.


On May 24, 2019, all abortion providers in Alabama filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama on behalf of themselves and their patients. The plaintiffs sued the Alabama Attorney General, the State Health Officer of the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH), the District Attorneys of Madison, Jefferson, Mobile, Montgomery, and Tuscaloosa counties, the Chairman of the AL Board of Medical Examiners, and the Chairman of the Medical Licensure Commission of Alabama in their official capacities under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The plaintiffs, represented by the ACLU, ACLU of Alabama, and Planned Parenthood sought to enjoin enforcement of H.B. 314, a bill that banned nearly all abortions in the state, and to have the bill declared unconstitutional. The plaintiffs claimed that H.B. 314 violated the rights of liberty and privacy secured to their patients by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Specifically, they claimed that enforcement of the law would effectively prevent plaintiffs’ patients from obtaining legal abortion in Alabama, in violation Roe v. Wade and more than four decades of Supreme Court precedent affirming its central holding.

The case was assigned to District Court Judge Myron H. Thompson. On June 21, 2019, the plaintiffs moved for a preliminary injunction to prevent the law from taking effect in November. Judge Thompson granted the motion for a preliminary injunction on October 29, 2019 and ordered the injunction to remain in effect until the district court resolved the case in full. 415 F.Supp.3d 1053.

In response to the COVID-19 crisis, the State Public Health Officer began issuing a series of emergency orders restricting “elective” medical procedures on March 19, 2020. On March 27, the State Public Health Officer issued another order prohibiting any medical or surgical procedure except those necessary to treat an “emergency medical condition” or to “avoid serious harm from an underlying condition.” Each medical or surgical procedure performed in violation of the March 27 Order was considered a misdemeanor. The Attorney General issued guidance encouraging prosecution of violations and took the position that the order prohibits some unknown quantity of pre-viability abortions.

To avoid risk of criminal and licensure penalties, the plaintiffs stopped performing pre-viability abortions. As a result, the actions of the Attorney General and ADPH effectively nullified the relief granted by the October 2019 preliminary injunction.

On March 30, 2020, the plaintiffs moved to supplement their complaint to challenge the March 27 Order and also moved for an emergency temporary restraining order (TRO) blocking enforcement of the March 27 order. Judge Thompson granted the motion for leave to file a supplemental complaint, and the plaintiffs filed an amended complaint the same day. Judge Thompson also granted the TRO, enjoining enforcement of the order, but promised to reconsider upon the submission of defendants’ written arguments. 2020 WL 1520243.

On April 1, the defendants moved to dissolve the TRO and on April 2, they appealed the order granting the TRO to the Eleventh Circuit and moved to stay the TRO pending appeal.

After a telephone conference, Judge Thompson limited the TRO in part on April 3, 2020. 2020 WL 1659700. The defendants clarified in the hearing that the order allowed providers to exercise their reasonable medical judgment to protect the right to terminate a pregnancy and the safety of their patients, while also “acknowledg[ing] that abortion providers and their patients must share the societal burden caused by COVID-19.” Specifically, providers should determine if the abortion can be delayed in a healthy way during the enforcement of the order. Consistent with these clarifications, Judge Thompson determined that the initial TRO was too sweeping and granted the stay to the extent that these clarifications are adopted.

On April 5, Judge Thompson ordered each party to file and share with opposing counsel a list of witnesses (along with a brief summary of anticipated testimony), and a list of exhibits they intended to have admitted. The next day, Judge Thompson held a motion hearing regarding the TRO and the preliminary injunction. The defendants’ appeal was also dismissed that day pursuant to the parties’ joint motion for voluntary dismissal.

Judge Thompson granted the preliminary injunction in part on April 12, after finding that it was substantially likely that the medical restrictions--when interpreted to allow only those abortions necessary to protect the life and health of the mother--were unconstitutional because they posed a substantial obstacle to obtaining an abortion for many women in Alabama. Rather than enjoin the medical restrictions in full, the court enjoined them only to prevent those applications of medical restrictions that are inconsistent with the Constitution. To the extent that the restriction is read to allow a provider to consider whether a patient’s abortion must proceed as scheduled, it would not constitute an unlawful prohibition. Essentially, the then-most recent representation made by the defendants were reduced to an order and the State Health Order was enjoined only to the extent that it is applied in a fashion inconsistent with those representations. 2020 WL 1847128. The same day, defendants appealed the preliminary injunction to the Eleventh Circuit.

On April 16th, the district court overruled the objections to the order granting the motion for leave to file a supplemental complaint. 2020 WL 1892578. The defendants moved for an emergency stay pending appeal in the Eleventh Circuit and on April 17th, moved to expedite the merits appeal.

On April 23rd, Judge Jordan for the Eleventh Circuit (Circuit Judges Martin, Jordan, and Rosenbaum) denied the motion for a stay. 2020 WL 1952370.

On May 5, the parties submitted a joint motion to the Eleventh Circuit to dismiss the appeal of the preliminary injunction, which was granted the same day. In a joint status report on May 15, the parties agreed that the preliminary injunction has become moot as it was tied to the "medical restrictions" language, which had since been lifted. The defendants represented that they had no intention to impose restrictions on dental, medical, or surgical procedures in future emergency orders. The court ordered the preliminary injunction to be dissolved as moot on May 18.

The parties submitted a notice of stipulated partial dismissal relating to the "medical restrictions" language on May 21, and the court dismissed that portion of the complaint on May 22. The partial motion to dismiss was also denied as moot.

On June 2, the parties submitted a joint motion to dismiss the State Health Officer, on the condition that he and his employees, agents, and successors in the office agree to be bound by the terms of any injunctive or declaratory and/or other relief issued against the other defendants in the case, but not for any monetary relief. The motion was granted on June 8.

The case is ongoing.

Claire Shimberg - 05/02/2020
Averyn Lee - 06/20/2020


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Affected Gender
Female
Constitutional Clause
Due Process
Due Process: Substantive Due Process
Content of Injunction
Preliminary relief granted
Defendant-type
Hospital/Health Department
Jurisdiction-wide
General
Abortion
Medical/Mental Health
COVID-19 Mitigation Granted
COVID-19 Mitigation Requested
Reproductive health care (including birth control, abortion, and others)
Plaintiff Type
Non-profit NON-religious organization
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) Alabama Attorney General
State Health Officer
Plaintiff Description All Alabama abortion providers
Indexed Lawyer Organizations ACLU Chapters (any)
ACLU National (all projects)
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
Source of Relief Litigation
Order Duration 2020 - n/a
Filed 05/24/2019
Case Ongoing Yes
Additional Resources
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  See this case at CourtListener.com (May provide additional documents and, for active cases, real-time alerts)
  Robinson, et al. v. Marshall, et al.
https://www.aclu.org/
Date: May 31, 2020
By: ACLU
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Docket(s)
2:19-cv-00365-MHT-JTA (M.D. Ala.)
PB-AL-0019-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/08/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Verified Complaint For Declaratory and Injunctive Relief [ECF# 1 (& 1-1 to 1-3)]
PB-AL-0019-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/24/2019
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Opinion [ECF# 68] (M.D. Ala.)
PB-AL-0019-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 10/29/2019
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Plaintiffs' Emergency Motion for a Temporary Restraining Order and Preliminary Injunction [ECF# 73, 73-1, 73-2]
PB-AL-0019-0008.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/30/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
First Amended Complaint [ECF# 79, 79-1]
PB-AL-0019-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/30/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Temporary Restraining Order [ECF# 83] (M.D. Ala.)
PB-AL-0019-0004.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/30/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Opinion and Order [ECF# 111] (M.D. Ala.)
PB-AL-0019-0005.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/03/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Opinion [ECF# 137] (M.D. Ala.)
PB-AL-0019-0006.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/12/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [Ct. of App. ECF# 152]
PB-AL-0019-0007.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/23/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Partial Motion to Dismiss of Defendants Attorney General Steve Marshall and State Health Officer Scott Harris [ECF# 156]
PB-AL-0019-0013.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/27/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Brief in Support of Defendants' Partial Motion to Dismiss [ECF# 157]
PB-AL-0019-0014.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/27/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Joint Status Report [ECF# 163]
PB-AL-0019-0009.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/15/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Notice of Stipulated Partial Dismissal of the First Amended Complaint [ECF# 166]
PB-AL-0019-0010.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/21/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judgment [ECF# 167, 167-1] (M.D. Ala.)
PB-AL-0019-0011.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/22/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Joint Motion to Dismiss Defendant Harris [ECF# 174, 174-1]
PB-AL-0019-0012.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/02/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Answer of Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall [ECF# 175]
PB-AL-0019-0015.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/05/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [ECF# 176] (M.D. Ala.)
PB-AL-0019-0016.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/08/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Adams, Jerusha Tatiana Court not on record show/hide docs
PB-AL-0019-9000
Jordan, Adalberto Jose (S.D. Fla., Eleventh Circuit) show/hide docs
PB-AL-0019-0007
Thompson, Myron Herbert (N.D. Ala., M.D. Ala.) show/hide docs
PB-AL-0019-0002 | PB-AL-0019-0004 | PB-AL-0019-0005 | PB-AL-0019-0006 | PB-AL-0019-0011 | PB-AL-0019-0016 | PB-AL-0019-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Boone, Brock (Alabama) show/hide docs
PB-AL-0019-0001 | PB-AL-0019-9000
Burrows, Meagan (New York) show/hide docs
PB-AL-0019-0001 | PB-AL-0019-0003 | PB-AL-0019-0008 | PB-AL-0019-0009 | PB-AL-0019-0010 | PB-AL-0019-9000
Flaxman, Carrie Y. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PB-AL-0019-0001 | PB-AL-0019-0003 | PB-AL-0019-9000
Kolbi-Molinas, Alexa Rebecca (New York) show/hide docs
PB-AL-0019-0001 | PB-AL-0019-0003 | PB-AL-0019-0008 | PB-AL-0019-0009 | PB-AL-0019-0010 | PB-AL-0019-9000
Lambiase, Susan (New York) show/hide docs
PB-AL-0019-9000
Marshall, Randall C. (Alabama) show/hide docs
PB-AL-0019-0001 | PB-AL-0019-0003 | PB-AL-0019-0008 | PB-AL-0019-0009 | PB-AL-0019-0010 | PB-AL-0019-0012 | PB-AL-0019-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Billingsley, Dana Helton (Alabama) show/hide docs
PB-AL-0019-9000
Bowdre, Alexander Barrett (Alabama) show/hide docs
PB-AL-0019-0009 | PB-AL-0019-0010 | PB-AL-0019-0012 | PB-AL-0019-0013 | PB-AL-0019-0014 | PB-AL-0019-0015 | PB-AL-0019-9000
Chynoweth, Brad A. (Alabama) show/hide docs
PB-AL-0019-0009 | PB-AL-0019-0010 | PB-AL-0019-0012 | PB-AL-0019-0013 | PB-AL-0019-0014 | PB-AL-0019-0015 | PB-AL-0019-9000
Davis, James William (Alabama) show/hide docs
PB-AL-0019-0009 | PB-AL-0019-0010 | PB-AL-0019-0012 | PB-AL-0019-0013 | PB-AL-0019-0014 | PB-AL-0019-0015 | PB-AL-0019-9000
Hale, Phillip Brian (Alabama) show/hide docs
PB-AL-0019-9000
Hunter, Eric Wilson (Alabama) show/hide docs
PB-AL-0019-9000
Lacour, Edward Gerard (Alabama) show/hide docs
PB-AL-0019-0009 | PB-AL-0019-0010 | PB-AL-0019-0013 | PB-AL-0019-0014 | PB-AL-0019-9000
Marshall, Steve (Alabama) show/hide docs
PB-AL-0019-0009 | PB-AL-0019-0010 | PB-AL-0019-0012 | PB-AL-0019-0013 | PB-AL-0019-0014 | PB-AL-0019-0015
Mills, Wallace Damon (Alabama) show/hide docs
PB-AL-0019-9000
Segall, Robert D. (Alabama) show/hide docs
PB-AL-0019-9000
Smith, Brenton Merrill (Alabama) show/hide docs
PB-AL-0019-0009 | PB-AL-0019-0010 | PB-AL-0019-0012 | PB-AL-0019-0013 | PB-AL-0019-0014 | PB-AL-0019-0015 | PB-AL-0019-9000
Other Lawyers Cohen, Marcia S. (Florida) show/hide docs
PB-AL-0019-9000
Murrill, Elizabeth Baker (Louisiana) show/hide docs
PB-AL-0019-9000
St. John, Joseph S (Louisiana) show/hide docs
PB-AL-0019-9000
Taylor, Bryan McDaniel (Alabama) show/hide docs
PB-AL-0019-9000

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