Administration ordered to pay opponent’s legal costsOctober 31, 2017
By BRUCE SCHREINER
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Gov. Matt Bevin’s office was ordered Monday to pay Planned Parenthood for its expenses after the Republican’s representatives were a no-show for a deposition in an abortion case.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Dave Whalin told Bevin’s office to reimburse Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky for travel and legal expenses incurred for the deposition that had been scheduled Aug. 18.
Planned Parenthood’s legal team wanted to question someone from Bevin’s office about his administration’s denial of a license to the organization to provide abortions in Louisville.
The deposition was rescheduled ahead of a trial held in September in the abortion case. Another federal judge has not yet ruled on the abortion licensing dispute.
In ordering sanctions for the missed deposition, Whalin rejected arguments by the governor’s office for why it failed to send any representatives.
“The Governor’s Office’s unresponsiveness to Planned Parenthood leading up to the scheduled deposition and delayed attempt at preventing the deposition through a protective order weigh in favor of granting Planned Parenthood’s request for sanctions,” Whalin wrote.
The judge’s order didn’t say how much Bevin’s office must pay to its legal adversary, and he asked Planned Parenthood to submit its expenses by Nov 21.
Bevin spokeswoman Amanda Stamper said the governor’s office was “surprised and disappointed” by the order and will appeal. Bevin is an outspoken abortion opponent.
“We had notified opposing counsel that the Governor’s Office would not agree to a deposition on the terms that opposing counsel proposed, and we gave at least a week’s notice that we would not be attending the ... deposition,” Stamper said in a statement.
“In fact, we moved for a protective order in advance of the deposition date. Because the deposition of another witness was held on the same day, the plaintiffs’ attorneys should not have incurred any additional expense,” she added.
The motion for a protective order seeking to prevent or limit the deposition’s scope came a day before the scheduled Aug 18 deposition.
“These attempts at preventing the deposition on the day/night before it was scheduled to take place are ‘too little, too late,’ given that Planned Parenthood’s counsel had already traveled to Louisville ... for the deposition,” Whalin wrote.
Bevin’s office’s failure to send anyone to the Aug. 18 deposition “did mean our lawyers had to make an extra trip here,” Planned Parenthood board chairwoman Kim Greene said Monday.
“And so sanctions are justified on that basis,” she said.
Planned Parenthood is challenging a Kentucky law that requires abortion clinics to have agreements with a hospital and an ambulance service in case of medical emergencies.
The organization claims that Bevin’s administration has used those so-called transfer agreements to block its request for a license to provide abortions in Louisville.
Planned Parenthood joined EMW Women’s Surgical Center, the last abortion clinic in Kentucky, in challenging the state law.
Bevin’s administration claimed the EMW clinic in Louisville lacked proper transfer agreements and took steps to shut it down. The clinic countered with its lawsuit to prevent the state from revoking its license.
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