Far-right activist Ammon Bundy loses his defamation case and faces a million-dollar fine

St. Luke’s Regional Health was awarded over $50 million in damages.

(Darin Oswald | Idaho Statesman via AP File Photo) Ammon Bundy looks at the prosecution table during a break in his trial to discuss a question with the dismissed jury in the courtroom of Ada County Magistrate Kim Dale March 15, 2022 in Boise, Idaho. A jury on Monday, July 24, 2023 awarded an Idaho hospital more than $50 million in damages in a libel trial against far-right activist Ammon Bundy and others.

Salem, Oregon • A far-right activist who spearheaded the takeover of a federal wildlife sanctuary in Oregon is now facing millions in damages after an Idaho hospital won a defamation lawsuit against him.

St. Luke’s Regional Health’s lawsuit accused Ammon Bundy and his associate Diego Rodriguez of making defamatory statements against the hospital and its staff after Rodriguez’s infant grandson was temporarily separated from his family and taken to St. Luke’s amid concerns for his health.

Police said at the time that medical staff determined the child was malnourished and had lost weight. The hospital claimed that Bundy and Rodriguez staged a smear campaign against the hospital.

Late Monday, a jury at the Ada County Courthouse in Boise agreed, awarding the hospital more than $50 million in damages, the hospital said.

“The jury’s decision places responsibility for these defendants’ ongoing campaign of intimidation, harassment and disinformation,” St. Luke’s said in a statement. “It also underscores the importance of protecting healthcare providers and other officials from attacks designed to prevent them from performing their duties.”

Bundy had urged his supporters to protest at the hospital and the homes of child protection workers, police officers and others involved in the child protection case. Rodriguez wrote on his website that the baby was “kidnapped,” implying that the state and those involved in the case “trafficked children” for profit.

The lawsuit was filed more than a year ago. Since then, Bundy has ignored court orders related to the lawsuit, filed trespassing charges against people hired to deliver legal documents, and called on scores of his supporters to take shelter at his home after learning he could be arrested on a contempt-of-court warrant.

Bundy did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the jury’s decision. According to court records, neither Bundy nor Rodriguez was represented by an attorney.

In 2016, Bundy led a 41-day armed occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge near Burns, Oregon, to protest the arson convictions of two ranchers who set fires to state lands where they grazed their livestock.

In 2014, Bundy’s father, rancher Cliven Bundy, rallied supporters to prevent officers from confiscating cattle from Bundy Ranch for more than $1 million in unpaid fees and penalties for grazing cattle on government property.

Ammon Bundy was acquitted of the charges in Oregon and the criminal case in Nevada ended in a mistrial.

Justin Scaccy

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