Planned Parenthood and several other abortion providers won a victory in February when a Portland jury ordered militant anti-abortion protestors to pay $109 million for threatening abortion providers with “Wanted Posters” and The Nuremberg Files Web site. The plaintiffs, however, have collected virtually no payments.
Last Spring U.S. District Judge Robert E. Jones ruled that defendants who created the Nuremburg Files and “wanted” posters featuring abortion doctors amounted to “blatant and illegal communication of true threats to kill” and violated federal anti-racketeering laws and the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act.
To date, more than 10 months after the verdict, the plaintiffs have collected $375.56. Defendants are considered “judgment proof,” meaning that on paper they appear penniless. Andrew Burnett, leader of Advocates for Life Ministries (AFLM), who owes $8.5 million, claims he earns about $700 a month. Yet according to his 1998 tax returns, Burnett and his wife, Diane Burnett, listed a gross income of about $191,000. Ms. Burnett owns the house where they live and Good Impressions, the Portland printing company where the couple works.
Just last month, Burnett announced that as of December 31, 1999, AFLM and its Life Advocate magazine was closing. Burnett cited the lawsuit brought against AFLM by Planned Parenthood Federation of America, as a factor in the group’s demise.
Maria Vullo, attorney for Planned Parenthood, stated that the financial activities of AFLM, Good Impressions, and Burnett himself were attempts to avoid payment to her client. “They’re just trying to avoid our bill and funnel money among themselves as they have for years,” said Vullo.
Judge Jones postponed any further action until next year to give the defendants time to answer Vullo’s and Planned Parenthood’s claims.