United States District Court, S.D. Mississippi.
Jackson Women's Health Organization, On behalf of itself and its patients, et al., Plaintiffs,
Thomas E. Dobbs, In his official capacity as State Health Officer of the Mississippi Department of Health, et al., Defendants.
Carlton W. Reeves, District Judge.
ORDER GRANTING PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION
Carlton W. Reeves, United States District Judge.
go again. Mississippi has passed another law banning
abortions prior to viability. The latest iteration, Senate
Bill 2116, bans abortions in Mississippi after a fetal
heartbeat is detected, which is as early as 6 weeks
parties have been here before. Last spring, plaintiffs
successfully challenged Mississippi's ban on abortion
after 15 weeks lmp. The Court ruled that the law was
unconstitutional and permanently enjoined its
enforcement. The State responded by passing an even
more restrictive bill, S.B. 2116.
now move to supplement their original complaint to challenge
S.B. 2116 and to preliminary enjoin the bill's
enforcement, prior to it taking effect on July 1, 2019. On
May 21, the Court held oral argument on both motions.
suit has already been divided into two parts: Part I
addressed the 15-week ban, and Part II, which is currently in
discovery, involves challenges to five different abortion
regulation schemes. Plaintiffs' proposed supplemental
complaint would in effect add a Part III-a challenge to S.B.
2116 based on due process and equal protection claims.
Rule 15(d), “the court may, on just terms, permit a
party to serve a supplemental pleading setting out any
transaction, occurrence, or event that happened after the
date of the pleading to be supplemented.”
is the obvious and reasonable requirement that the
supplementation have ‘some relation' to what is
sought to be supplemented.” When deciding whether to
allow supplementation, the court should consider the totality
of the circumstances, such as: “(1) undue delay, (2)
bad faith or dilatory motive by the movant, (3) repeated
failure to cure deficiencies by previous amendments, (4)
undue prejudice to the opposing party, or (5) futility of
State concedes that none of these factors “weigh
against allowing supplementation[.]” Rather, the State
argues that because the challenge to S.B. 2116 does not stem
from the original complaint, plaintiffs are attempting to
“shoehorn a separate and distinct constitutional
challenge” into “their existing
are several reasons to allow plaintiffs to supplement the
complaint. First, as all parties acknowledge, none of the
factors mentioned above (delay, bad faith, deficiencies,
undue prejudice, or futility) counsel against
supplementation. Second, the proposed supplemental claims
are related to the original suit. The supplemental claims
involve the same parties as the original suit. The
supplemental claims pose the same legal question as the
original suit: does the law ban abortion prior to viability?
And the supplemental claims involve a substantial overlap of
facts relevant to the original suit. Finally, the supplemental
claims can be adjudicated simultaneously with the current
suit because Part II still has a year left in discovery.
similar case challenging Alabama's abortion regulations,
Judge Myron Thompson addressed a similar motion to supplement
the complaint. He reasoned that “one of the primary
goals of Rule 15(d) is to aid in the complete resolution of
disputes between parties.” Because plaintiffs filed
the original complaint to “prevent permanent closure of
the [abortion] clinic, ” and their proposed
supplemental complaint added a challenge to a regulation that
would have also resulted in closure, supplementation allowed
for complete resolution in a single civil
Court is in a very similar position to Judge Thompson. The
State passed a new abortion ban while its present abortion
ban is in active litigation. Supplementation will allow for a
complete resolution of the dispute between JWHO and the
State. To use the State's words, it would not “make
sense” to force the plaintiffs to challenge this
statute in a separate lawsuit.
motion to supplement is granted. The supplemental claims
against S.B. 2116 will proceed as Part III of this case. Part