Idaho health system files lawsuit over 'smear campaign,' protest after infant's treatment

Boise, Idaho-based St. Luke's Health System filed a lawsuit May 11 related to a March protest over an infant's care that prompted a hospital lockdown.

The lawsuit, filed in the Idaho 4th Judicial District Court, is "based on the targeted and damaging activities surrounding a child protective services case in March 2022 that resulted in a coordinated campaign of harassment and intimidation against St. Luke's and its team members," the health system said in a news release.  

Defendants in the lawsuit are Ammon Bundy, a candidate for Idaho governor and founder of the activist People's Rights Network; Diego Rodriguez, a consultant for Mr. Bundy's campaign and grandfather of the child involved in the child protective services case; Mr. Rodriguez's website Freedom Man Press and related entities.

St. Luke's downtown Boise hospital went on lockdown March 15 after Mr. Rodriguez's then 10-month-old grandson was brought to the hospital for treatment following police determination that the infant was in "imminent danger." The infant, who was first treated at the hospital earlier in March for severe malnourishment and discharged March 4, was placed in the custody of the state after police said his parents failed to bring him to follow-up medical appointments.

St. Luke's Health System alleges that Mr. Bundy and Mr. Rodriguez "acted in concert with the other defendants to launch a knowingly dishonest and baseless smear campaign that claimed Idaho state employees, the judiciary, the police, primary care providers and the St. Luke's parties engaged in widespread kidnapping, trafficking and killing of Idaho children."

The health system also said the defendants asked followers to protest at the hospital to disrupt the hospital's operations, which resulted in the hour-long lockdown. Additionally, the health system's complaint cited trespass at the organization's Meridian and Boise hospital campuses and sustained online attacks.

The health system said it seeks monetary damages as well as the removal of "defamatory and false material" posted by defendants online.

If damages are awarded, the health system said it will donate its portion to support Children at Risk Evaluation Service, a program for at-risk children.

A call to Mr. Bundy from the Idaho Press seeking comment did not go through. Mr. Bundy and Mr. Rodriguez could not be reached for comment by the Idaho Capital Sun.

Becker's has also reached out to the defendants and will update the article if a comment is received.

Read the full lawsuit here

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