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Planned Parenthood Great Plains v. Williams

United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit

July 20, 2017

Planned Parenthood Great Plains Plaintiff- Appellee
v.
Randall Williams, Director of the Missouri Department of Health and SeniorServices, in his official capacity Defendant-Appellant

          Submitted: April 6, 2017

         Appeal from United States District Court for the Western District of Missouri - Jefferson City

          Before GRUENDER, MURPHY, and KELLY, Circuit Judges.

          KELLY, Circuit Judge.

         Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri (PPKM)[1] sought and obtained a permanent injunction against the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) after DHSS attempted to revoke PPKM's license to provide abortion services. DHSS appeals the district court's[2] subsequent award of attorney's fees to PPKM. Having jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1291, we affirm.

         I. Background

         PPKM operates a healthcare facility in Columbia, Missouri, that previously provided women with abortion services. In Missouri, facilities that provide abortion services are a subset of ambulatory surgical centers (ASCs), and are regulated by DHSS. See Mo. Code Regs. Ann. tit. 19, §§ 30-30.050 to 30-30.070. For a facility to receive an ASC license to provide abortion services, a physician providing the services at the facility must "have staff privileges at a hospital within fifteen (15) minutes' travel time from the facility." Id. § 30-30.060(1)(C)(4).

         DHSS issued PPKM an ASC license on July 15, 2015, while PPKM employed a physician with hospital privileges at the University of Missouri hospital. The license was valid through June 30, 2016. However, PPKM's physician lost her hospital privileges in September 2015 when the University of Missouri hospital ceased issuing and honoring the type of privileges she held. As a result, PPKM lacked one of the ASC license requirements at its Columbia facility, and informed DHSS that it had stopped providing abortion services at that facility.

         DHSS notified PPKM by letter on September 25, 2015, that its ASC license for the Columbia facility would be revoked effective December 1, 2015, unless PPKM satisfied the hospital privileges requirement. PPKM informed DHSS that it was working to re-establish hospital privileges. On November 25, 2015, DHSS again notified PPKM of its intent to revoke the Columbia facility's ASC license on December 1, 2015.

         On November 30, 2015, PPKM filed a complaint in federal district court in Missouri pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1983 against DHSS' acting director, Peter Lyskowski, [3] in his official capacity, alleging that DHSS' imminent revocation of the Columbia facility's ASC license violated PPKM's Fourteenth Amendment rights to procedural due process and equal protection, and seeking declaratory and injunctive relief. PPKM simultaneously filed a motion for a temporary restraining order (TRO), asking the court for the opportunity to present expedited briefing on its request for a preliminary injunction. The district court granted PPKM's motion for a TRO, effective through December 2, 2015.

         On December 2, 2015, after additional briefing and a telephone conference, the district court found that PPKM's equal protection claim had a substantial likelihood of success, [4] and entered a second TRO, effective through December 30, 2015. Then, on December 28, 2015, after limited discovery, further briefing, and a hearing, the district court granted PPKM's request for a preliminary injunction. DHSS appealed the preliminary injunction order, but on May 11, 2016, while that appeal was pending, the district court granted PPKM's motion for a permanent injunction, [5] and DHSS' appeal of the preliminary injunction was dismissed as moot. See Planned Parenthood of Kan. & Mid-Mo. v. Lyskowski, No. 16-1302 (8th Cir. May 12, 2016) (dismissing appeal of preliminary injunction order pursuant to Fed. R. App. P. 42(b)).

         PPKM's ASC license expired on June 30, 2016. On August 1, 2016, the district court granted PPKM's motion for attorney's fees pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1988. DHSS then appealed the permanent injunction and attorney's fees award. PPKM moved to dismiss DHSS' appeal of the district court's merits decision as moot in light of the fact that PPKM's license had expired. DHSS did not resist the motion, and we limited DHSS' appeal to its challenge to the attorney's fees award.

         DHSS argues that the district court erred in awarding attorney's fees because PPKM was not entitled to a TRO or a preliminary injunction, and because PPKM achieved only a technical victory that resulted in no real benefit to PPKM.

         II. ...


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