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Judge orders Ammon Bundy to stop posting ‘defamatory statements’ about St. Luke’s

A protester, holding a sign directed at police, shouts “baby snatchers” in March 2022 at a Boise policeman patrolling the area outside of St. Luke’s Boise Medical Center in Boise.  (Darin Oswald/Idaho Statesman)
By Alex Brizee Idaho Statesman

An Idaho judge has issued a permanent injunction meant to prevent far-right activist Ammon Bundy from disseminating defamatory statements about St. Luke’s Health System and several of its employees.

In a 40-page order, 4th District Judge Nancy Baskin ruled that the injunction was “warranted” and “appropriate” to stop Bundy and his former campaign adviser, Diego Rodriguez – both of whom owe St. Luke’s and other plaintiffs millions of dollars after losing a defamation case – from posting “harmful” statements about St. Luke’s; the system’s CEO, Chris Roth; Dr. Natasha Erickson; and nurse practitioner Tracy Jungman.

“The actions and conduct of the defendants have made our community less safe,” Baskin wrote in the order. “Medical providers and other employees are leaving their professions because of the damage to their reputation, the invasion of their privacy, the harassment and threats of intimidation by defendants.”

The order also applies to organizations tied to Bundy and Rodriguez, including the People’s Rights Network.

After Bundy and Rodriguez – who did not participate in the court proceedings – lost the defamation case, they continued to maintain websites containing false statements about St. Luke’s and the case, and Bundy has posted a 14-minute-long video on YouTube which was shared on the People’s Rights Network.

Now, the order mandates that Bundy and Rodriguez stop posting and disseminating any “defamatory statements” against the plaintiffs – including any statements that wrongfully claim the plaintiffs are criminals.

The judge’s order comes after a jury awarded $52 million in damages to St. Luke’s and the other plaintiffs, who won a defamation lawsuit against Bundy, Rodriguez and various connected groups. In March 2022, the pair led protests at St. Luke’s hospitals in Meridian and downtown Boise over a child welfare case involving Rodriguez’s 10-month-old grandchild, leading to the case being filed.

“I have nothing to worry about when it comes to judge Baskin’s recent order, true statements are not defamatory,” Bundy told the Statesman in a text.

Bundy and Rodriguez also are tasked with removing any statements and deactivating any links on their websites that claim the plaintiffs are criminals or engaged in criminal activity. In addition, they must remove any contact information, personal information and images of the plaintiffs, according to the court order.

The judge’s decision also noted that this includes posting St. Luke’s employees’ personal information online in the future or “encouraging others” to do so.

Baskin said that if Bundy and Rodriguez failed to abide by the order, they could face contempt proceedings, sanctions and “other legal ramifications.”

“Even after the jury verdict for $52 million, Mr. Bundy, Mr. Rodriguez, (the People’s Rights Network) have continued to make false statements regarding St. Luke’s and medical professionals who work for St. Luke’s,” Erik Stidham, an attorney representing the health care system, told the Idaho Statesman by phone.

“This order from the judge will be an important tool in taking steps to stop these continued false statements and hopefully to curtail the grift that Mr. Bundy and PRN continue to engage in to mislead their followers to donate money to Mr. Bundy, PRN and Diego Rodriguez.”

Another Idaho judge, Brent Whiting, recently issued a restraining order against Bundy and others temporarily restricting them from transferring ownership of any properties, companies or other significant assets after St. Luke’s filed a new lawsuit against them regarding the damages they owe.

At 1 p.m. Monday , Bundy is expected to appear at the Gem County Courthouse for a preliminary injunction hearing, where the judge will decide whether to permanently restrict Bundy’s financial transactions until the conclusion of the case.

He’s then again expected to appear at the Ada County Courthouse at 10 a.m. Tuesday for his initial appearance in a contempt case related to the original St. Luke’s lawsuit.