St. Luke's Health System asks judge to hold far-right leader in contempt, seeks $7.5M in damages

Boise, Ida.-based St. Luke's Health System has asked a judge to hold far-right leader Ammon Bundy in contempt after he posted defamatory comments about its CEO, the Idaho Statesmann reported Feb. 21. 

The health system first crossed paths with Mr. Bundy — founder of far-right group the People's Rights Network — in early 2022. Law enforcement brought the son of Mr. Bundy's associate, Diego Rodriguez, to St. Luke's Meridian (Ida.) Hospital following concerns about his well-being. 

Mr. Bundy rallied support online and led protests outside the health system's hospitals in Meridian and Boise, which blocked ambulance bays and forced emergency services to divert to other hospitals. He was arrested and pled guilty to trespassing in January. 

However, Mr. Bundy has continued to post on the People's Rights Network that Chris Roth, president and CEO of St. Luke's Health System, is a criminal accessory of child abduction. His refusal to remove the defamatory comments violates the health system's protective order, it alleges. 

On Feb. 21, Mr. Bundy did not appear at his contempt hearing, although more than 40 of his supporters did. Fourth District Judge Lynn Norton said the next step is to file a summons to bring him to court. She also issued an order allowing the health system to seek punitive damages up to $7.5 million. 

"St. Luke’s presented compelling evidence that Mr. Bundy and the Peoples Right’s Network have violated Court orders and continue to harass parties and witnesses to the case," Erik Stidham, the health system's attorney, told Becker's. "Despite Mr. Bundy’s failure to appear at the hearing, the Court decided to use its discretion to hold off on addressing the contempt and gave Mr. Bundy yet another chance to appear at a later date. In turn, the hearing on contempt will have to be reset."

"St. Luke’s is concerned that Mr. Bundy will only be emboldened if he is allowed to continue to dodge court proceedings," Mr. Stidham continued. "St. Luke’s hopes that Mr. Bundy will finally appear; only a coward hides from court and makes harassing videos in a cowboy hat on his couch."

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