Security guarding an entrance to St. Lukes with Ammon Bundy and fellow thugs outside
“I will not allow my property to be taken by force as long as I am alive and free” Ammon Bundy
The case arose from an incident in March, 2022, when Bundy close associate Diego Rodriguez’ 10-month-old grandson was temporarily removed from family custody and taken to St. Luke’s over concerns about his health. The baby was temporarily placed in the care of the state, and returned to his parents after about a week.
Bundy and Rodriguez said the child was wrongfully taken from a loving family after he began experiencing episodes of vomiting after trying solid foods. At the time, Meridian Police said medical personnel determined the child was malnourished and had lost weight, but the family maintained the child was healthy and needed to stay with his mother to breastfeed.
“In my opinion, if he had been allowed to go home with his parents and continue on the trajectory he was on, he would have died,” said Rachel Thomas, a St. Luke’s emergency room doctor.
Bundy urged his followers to protest the hospital and at the homes of child protection service workers, law enforcement officers and others involved in the child protection case. Rodriguez wrote on his website that the baby was “kidnapped,” and suggested that the state and people involved in the case were engaged in “child trafficking” for profit.
“Intimidation, defamation, doxing, trespass, threats of violence, armed ‘protests’ at homes and businesses and, when all else fails, armed standoffs with law enforcement — these are the weapons of choice for Ammon Bundy and his more than 60,000-member strong militia, People’s Rights Network,” attorneys for St. Luke’s Health System wrote in a recent court filing.
At least three witnesses in the defamation lawsuit are unwilling to testify against Bundy in court, according to court documents filed by St. Luke’s, because they fear they might be harmed by Bundy’s supporters.
Two months later, St. Luke’s hospital filed a defamation suit against Bundy and Diego Rodriguez, the child’s grandpa and an activist in Bundy’s far-right People’s Rights Network (PRN). The complaint also named their companies, including Rodriguez’s Freedom Man Press, which posted Baby Cyrus “kidnapping videos.”
Erik Stidham, an attorney for St. Luke’s, told jurors he thought the hospital deserved at least $16 million. “My hope is that you will look at this and you will deter (Bundy) in a way that he hasn’t been deterred yet,” Stidham said in closing arguments, according to the Idaho Statesman. He added that Bundy’s and Rodriguez’s entities were a “massive ugly machine built to make money and radicalize people.”
Known for armed standoffs with law enforcement, Bundy was a consistent no-show throughout the legal proceedings. In April, a judge issued a default judgment against Bundy and Rodriguez for failing to respond to the suit, leading Bundy to put out an emergency alert that falsely claimed cops surrounded his home and that beckoned his PRN disciples to show up to defend him.
Stidham said the defendants, through videos and blog posts, spread lies that the hospital was working with the government to take children away from Christian families to be sexually abused and given to gay couples. He alleged that businesses and groups belonging to Bundy and Rodriguez were a “massive ugly machine built to make money and radicalize people.” He said lying about the welfare case was a way to get people to donate to their causes.
In addition to St. Luke’s, the plaintiffs in the lawsuit were St. Luke’s CEO Chris Roth and two medical professionals who worked on the child, Dr. Natasha Erickson and nurse practitioner Tracy Jungman. All plaintiffs were awarded millions in damages by the jury.