St. Luke’s Boise Medical Center is one of the hospitals that took patients from around the state and Northwest region during the COVID-19 surge that stretched from fall to winter 2020. (Otto Kitsinger for Idaho Capital Sun)
An Ada County judge on Tuesday sent St. Luke’s attorneys back to square one, after the attorneys made a procedural error in a case against Ammon Bundy, Diego Rodriguez and their organizations.
Fourth District Judge Lynn Norton said the hospital system’s paperwork did not follow rules for legal notices; for example, in their summons, attorneys for St. Luke’s didn’t list the address of the courthouse.
She said she will extend the deadline 21 days for Rodriguez and Bundy to respond to St. Luke’s – moving the deadline to the first week of August.
“If there’s not proper service, any judgment (at the end of the case would be) void,” so it is crucial to follow the rules each step of the way, she said.
Bundy and Rodriguez did not show up for the hearing. They had no attorneys in court to represent them.
Attorneys from Holland & Hart law firm represented St. Luke’s, its Boise hospital, CEO Chris Roth and two health care providers.
St. Luke’s in May sued Bundy, Rodriguez and their closely linked political organizations — People’s Rights Network and Freedom Man PAC — on allegations of defamation and harassment.
Bundy ignored the lawsuit and a court order to provide information about People’s Rights Network and its website, such as: who manages or holds ownership interest; the legal structure and people in charge of PRN; and the identities of people who wrote or posted the allegedly defamatory statements.
He had until June 17 to respond.
Bundy neither provided that information nor answered the allegations against him, “despite acknowledging to the public that he is aware of the lawsuit and stating in interviews that he plans to ‘expose’ the hospital,” according to a court filing by St. Luke’s.
St. Luke’s sought sanctions against Bundy for that reason, it said.
Rodriguez couldn’t be located by the person hired to serve him with the lawsuit. He told the Idaho Statesman earlier this month that he had moved to another country, according to Statesman reporting.
St. Luke’s attorneys on Tuesday said it was “imperative” to move the lawsuit forward. They tried to send Rodriguez the documents by email, but he hasn’t responded, an attorney said.
Because of that, St. Luke’s asked the court for permission to officially make Rodriguez aware of the lawsuit by publishing notices in newspapers in Idaho and Florida.
The history of the St. Luke’s lawsuit against Rodriquez, Bundy
Rodriguez’s grandson was hospitalized in March at St. Luke’s with severe malnourishment. He also was taken into child protection.
Rodriguez, Bundy and their followers protested at St. Luke’s and urged people to protest there, and to call St. Luke’s and others associated with the boy’s medical care.
During that public protest campaign, the men made false claims about St. Luke’s, including that it was “engaged in widespread kidnapping, trafficking, and killing of Idaho children,” the lawsuit said. The hospital went on lockdown for an hour and was unable to accept patients in ambulances.
Bundy, Rodriguez and their organizations launched “a knowingly dishonest and baseless smear campaign,” the lawsuit said.
St. Luke’s said in legal filings this month that Bundy “continues to make false and defamatory statements” about the health system.
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Before Tuesday’s hearing, St. Luke’s argued that Bundy’s “obstructionist and deceptive behaviors (wasted its) time and money,” and asked the court to order Bundy to sit for a deposition where he would have to respond to their questions, and to pay its legal expenses.
“Bundy has demonstrated a pattern of ignoring court orders,” it said, citing the jail sentence Bundy received after trying to claim hours he spent on his gubernatorial campaign as community service, against a judge’s instructions.
That history “demonstrates that lesser sanctions than requested would not be effective,” St. Luke’s said.
Bundy is running as an independent candidate for governor in the Nov. 8 general election.
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