November 8, 2012 Print

HHS Mandate Lawsuit Count Reaches Milestone Monday

by Bethany Monk

The number of lawsuits against the Obama administration over a rule forcing employers to provide insurance covering contraceptives and possible abortifacient drugs reached 40 this week, when a medical supply company in Minnesota filed a complaint on Nov. 5. 

Stuart Lind, who owns Annex Medical, Inc., is a Catholic dedicated to “conducting business in a way that is pleasing to God and is faithful to Biblical principles and values,” according to court documents. He says the mandate is forcing him to violate his religious beliefs.

“This case follows the successful challenges of the (Health and Human Services) mandate by for-profit businesses in other states,” said Erick Kaardal of the Minneapolis-based law firm Mohrman & Kaardal, P.A., one of the attorneys representing Lind. “We are the first to file in Minnesota. We hope to have the Constitution applied to protect business owners’ religious liberties elsewhere.”

The Obama administration gave secular businesses until this past August to comply with the mandate. Faith-based organizations, including Catholic hospitals, universities and ministries, have a so-called “safe harbor” extension that gives them until August 2013 to find a way to comply.

Annex Medical refuses to adhere to the mandate and will drop its insurance plan altogether by Jan. 31, unless courts provide relief, the law firm stated.

Tom Janas, a businessman and entrepreneur, is another plaintiff in Annex Medical, Inc. et al. v. Sebelius. Earlier this year, Janas, who also is Catholic, sold his company, Roffe Container, Inc., to a competitor after learning he would be forced to violate his religious beliefs in order to comply with the HHS mandate. Janas plans to purchase another business in 2013, and is suing for relief from the mandate.

The 40 lawsuits against the Obama administration currently comprise more than 110 plaintiffs.

Last week, a federal court in Oklahoma heard arguments from Hobby Lobby, the largest corporation so far to challenge the mandate. The Becket Fund for Religious Liberties, which is representing Hobby Lobby, said a ruling on the request not to be forced to comply while the lawsuit proceeds is expected in the next few weeks. Should the court grant the request, Hobby Lobby would be the third company to receive temporary relief from the mandate.

Learn more about Annex Medical, Inc. v. Sebelius.

Visit HHS Mandate Information Central.