Minnesota business owners opposing HHS mandate await Supreme Court decision

| Susan Klemond | March 26, 2014 | 0 Comments

Owners of eight Minnesota for-profit companies who have filed lawsuits against the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services over its contraception mandate have much at stake as the U.S. Supreme Court deliberates on the issue and prepares to rule on two similar cases, expected this summer.

The high court’s ruling in the Hobby Lobby Stores and Conestoga Wood Specialties cases will determine whether the companies can continue offering their employees health insurance without HHS forcing them to violate their conscience by providing and paying for contraceptive, abortifacient and elective sterilization coverage in their group health plans.

The company owners, some of whom are Catholic and oppose the requirement because it goes against Church teaching, have from five to 150 employees. For-profit companies must comply with the mandate, which is part of the Affordable Care Act. Churches and houses of worship are exempt from the mandate, while nonprofit religious organizations can receive an accommodation from the government.

All the Minnesota cases have been filed in the past year and a half. Seven have been granted temporary exemption from the mandate by courts, pending the Supreme Court’s decision. The other case was being filed as of March 25 and could also receive a preliminary injunction, according to Erick Kaardal of the Minneapolis-based law firm Mohrman & Kaardal, P.A., which represents seven of the Minnesota companies.

With 47 for-profit cases filed against the HHS mandate nationwide, Minnesota is among the states with the most cases, according to the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, a Washington, D.C., based nonprofit, public-interest legal and educational institute protecting religious freedom, which has represented a number of organizations opposing the mandate.

In addition, 47 nonprofit cases and three class action lawsuits have been filed. No Minnesota nonprofits have filed lawsuits.

Besides the companies that have filed lawsuits, others also oppose the mandate and would consider filing, Kaardal said.

Minnesota cases in the order they were filed

Annex Medical — medical equipment manufacturer
Filed: Nov. 2, 2012
Plaintiffs: Annex Medical Inc., Stuart Lind, Tom Janas
Preliminary injunction: February 2013. Hearing in U.S. Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals this fall, but decision deferred pending Supreme Court ruling

American Manufacturing Co. — mud pumps and parts manufacturer
Filed: Feb. 5, 2013
Plaintiffs: Deacon Gregory Hall, American Manufacturing Co.
Preliminary injunction: April 2013

SMA, LLC — grain elevator construction, grain handling and bulk storage
Filed: June 7, 2013
Plaintiffs: SMA, LLC, Michael Brey, Stanley Brey
Preliminary injunction: July 2013

The QC Group — inspection and engineering
Filed: July 2, 2013
Plaintiffs: The QC Group Inc., Daniel Medford, David Devowe
Preliminary injunction: September 2013

Feltl and Co. — securities brokerage and investment banking
Filed: Sept. 25, 2013
Plaintiffs: Feltl and Co. Inc., John Feltl, Mary Jo Feltl
Preliminary injunction: November 2013

Doboszenski & Sons — excavation and related services
Filed: Nov. 14, 2013
Plaintiffs: Doboszenski & Sons Inc., Douglas Doboszenski
Preliminary injunction: November 2013

Hastings Automotive — car dealership
Filed: Jan. 29
Plaintiffs: Hastings Automotive Inc., Hastings Chrysler Center, Douglas Erickson
Stay issued pending Supreme Court ruling

Stinson Electric — electrical contractor, construction
Filed: March 25
Plaintiffs: Stinson Electric Inc., Paul Archambault, Pat Archambault

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