Ammon Bundy walks out of a Boise courtroom on Tuesday, Aug. 29, 2023. (Kyle Pfannenstiel/Idaho Capital Sun)
An Idaho judge has blocked Ammon Bundy and others from moving financial assets for longer in a new lawsuit in Gem County.
The lawsuit, brought by St. Luke’s Health System, alleges that Bundy has made fraudulent property transfers to evade collection of millions of dollars in damages awarded to the health system in its initial lawsuit against him, People’s Rights Network and his campaign for governor.
“Unless the Court reconsiders the ruling, the preliminary injunction will remain in place until the lawsuit is resolved, by motion or at trial,” attorney Erik Stidham, representing St. Luke’s Health System, told the Idaho Capital Sun in a text message.
Judge Brent Whiting initially temporarily blocked financial moves, but issued a more lasting preliminary injunction last Friday. Whiting issued the order two weeks after hearing about what St. Luke’s lawyers describe as a “sham” move by Bundy to sell his home to White Barn Enterprises, LLC, for one-quarter of its $1 million value and then continue to live in it under a five-year lease in his wife’s name. White Barn is managed by Bundy’s friend, Aaron Welling.
“Because there is substantial evidence supporting the relevant significant factors, the Court finds that there is a high likelihood of (St. Luke’s) Plaintiffs’ success on the merits of their claims,” Whiting wrote in a memo outlining his decision.
The preliminary injunction blocks Bundy, his wife Lisa Bundy, his campaign for governor and People’s Rights Network from:
- Selling, transferring or conveying any real property;
- Transferring any ownership interests they hold in an entity;
- Causing an entity they hold an ownership interest in to transfer, sell or convey interest in real property or material assets;
- Transferring monetary assets from any banks;
- Incurring new material obligations.
White Barn Enterprises, LLC, which Bundy sold his home to, is only blocked from transferring or selling the home. The Bundys are allowed to spend up to $5,750 per month on living expenses and can pay the minimum on regular bills.
“It appears that Mr. Welling, acting for White Barn as the recipient of the Bundys’ Harvest Lane Property, is an insider, due to his close friendship with Ammon Bundy and his service as the treasurer of his campaign for governor,” Whiting wrote.
Whiting wrote that no cash was actually transferred to Bundy. White Barn’s payments have gone toward paying the mortgage owed by the Bundys, he wrote.
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Judge finalizes damages in first Bundy lawsuit; contempt trial delayed
Judge Nancy Baskin, who oversaw the jury trial in the first lawsuit against Bundy, issued a judgment last week slightly reducing the amount of jury-awarded damages Bundy, his associate Diego Rodriguez and groups linked to them must pay. Baskin reduced punitive damages owed to Roth from $7 million to $6,375,000 because it was more than three times higher than the compensatory damages awarded to St. Luke’s Health System CEO Chris Roth, which Idaho law does not allow.
St. Luke’s Health System and St. Luke’s Regional Medical Center are owed $19,125,000, Roth is owed $8.5 million and two other employees are owed a combined $24,250,000.
Bundy is being sued twice by St. Luke’s Health System.
Bundy and his associate Diego Rodriguez did not attend the two-week long jury trial in Ada County for the first lawsuit, where a jury ordered the two and groups linked to them to pay $52.5 million in damages to St. Luke’s Health System and three employees they defamed, or made false, damaging statements about in connection with their care for an infant related to Rodriguez.
The original lawsuit against Bundy, Rodriguez and groups linked to them revolved around their in-person protests and online messages targeting medical professionals and others after a primary care provider unaffiliated with the hospital contacted the state health department about the infant. That resulted in the infant being placed under temporary protective care.
Bundy has argued that the baby was healthy, but several doctors testified in court during the lawsuit trial last month that the baby showed signs of being malnourished, the Idaho Capital Sun previously reported.
Baskin also granted a request by Bundy to reschedule his contempt of court hearing in connection with the first lawsuit from its originally scheduled date of early October to mid-November. Bundy requested the court hearings be moved so he could harvest fruit.
Bundy appeared in court last month on contempt of court charges. Bundy is being charged with civil and criminal contempt for allegedly violating court orders issued by a previous judge in the case that required him to remove defamatory statements from the internet and to not intimidate witnesses in the lawsuit.
If convicted, he could face no more than up to six months in jail, Baskin ordered. The maximum penalty for each civil contempt penalty is $5,000 and five days in jail.
Bundy’s contempt trial is scheduled to start Nov. 13.
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