The Idaho hospital, which closed in March after far-right activists protested outside, is suing Ammon Bundy, Diego Rodriguez and their various political organizations for defamation and “continuous online attacks”.
St. Luke’s Health System sued Bundy on Wednesday, his gubernatorial campaign and his People’s Rights Network organization. The hospital system is also suing Diego Rodriguez, the grandfather of the child involved in the custody case, and Rodriguez’s website Freedom Man Press and the Freedom Man Political Action Committee. Rodriguez is a Bundy’s colleague who has been actively involved in Bundy’s political campaigns.
Meridian Police Department at the time said the incident occurred protecting a 10-month-old baby who was temporarily removed from family care after authorities determined that the baby was “severely malnourished.” Police said in a statement that the baby’s parents refused to ascertain the child’s well-being after the family canceled a hospital appointment.
Bundy, best known for participating in armed confrontations with law enforcement, was arrested the next day on misdemeanor trespassing charges after protesting at another hospital believing the baby was being treated. He also asked his followers to protest in the homes of hospitals and child protection services staff, law enforcement officers and others involved in child protection cases. Meanwhile, Rodriguez wrote on his website that the baby was ‘abducted’ and suggested that the countries and people involved were ‘trafficking children’ for profit.
The men also ordered their followers to protest at the Boise Hospital on March 15. The facility was closed for more than an hour after hospital officials judged the protests pose a safety risk, diverting emergency patients to other local hospitals.
In the lawsuit, St. Luke’s Health System claims the two men “worked together to create a false story about a state-sponsored child abduction and trafficking organization,” which includes hospitals, the Department of Health and Human Services, and law enforcement officers. .
“They realized that the facts surrounding DHW’s intervention could be misrepresented as a government conspiracy to kidnap, trafficking and killing children,” the hospital system’s lawyer said in the lawsuit. Realized that this could be a manipulating government conspiracy.”
The defendants wanted to spark interest in Bundy’s campaign for governor, raise public profiles, and generate financial gains in the form of donations from followers, the hospital system claims.
Neither Bundy nor Rodriguez immediately responded to emails requesting comment.
St. Luke’s is seeking damages and legal costs of more than $50,000 in amounts to be proven in trial. The hospital system also wants to ban defendants from making defamatory statements.
In the statement, St. Luke’s said he would donate monetary damages to a program for children at risk called the Children At Risk Evaluation Service.