January 3, 2013 — A federal judge on Dec. 30 granted a temporary restraining order to Domino's Farms owner Tom Monaghan that allows the company to avoid complying with the federal contraceptive coverage rules without penalty, the Detroit Free Press reports. In the lawsuit, Monaghan argued that providing birth control coverage to employees at Domino's Farms, a property management company, would violate his religious belief that using contraception is a "gravely immoral" practice. Monaghan is best known as the founder of Domino's Pizza but sold that company in 1998, according to the Free Press.
U.S. District Judge Lawrence Zatkoff said he agreed to issue the temporary restraining order because the case would not be decided before Domino's Farms health plan year begins and the company must start complying with the contraceptive coverage rules.
Zatkoff also cited the First Amendment right to freedom of religion. "Abiding by the mandate will substantially burden [Monaghan's] exercise of religion," Zatkoff said. He added, "Because plaintiffs' claims involve a First Amendment right, and because the court has found some likelihood that plaintiffs'... claim will succeed on the merits, the court finds that irreparable harm could result to plaintiff" (Meyer, Detroit Free Press, 1/1).
Private Businesses in Mo. Granted Injunctions Against Contraceptive Coverage Rules
Separately, a federal judge on Dec. 20 granted a temporary injunction sought by private businesses in Missouri whose owners oppose the federal contraceptive coverage rules on religious grounds, CQ HealthBeat reports.
The scrap-metal recycling and machine manufacturing businesses -- American Pulverizer, City Welding, Hustler Conveyor, and Springfield Iron and Metal -- are owned by evangelical Christians Paul Griesediek and Henry Griesediek. The companies' health plans cover birth control, but the owners want to end coverage of emergency contraception, according to CQ HealthBeat.
U.S. District Judge Richard Dorr wrote that both the plaintiffs and defendants agree that the case is "nearly identical" to another case in Missouri in which an appeals court granted a temporary injunction to O'Brien Industrial Holdings. Dorr said the injunction in the O'Brien case established a precedent (Norman, CQ HealthBeat, 12/21).
Catholic Owners of Construction Business Also Receive Injunction
Meanwhile, in a 2-1 decision, a panel of the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Dec. 28 granted a temporary injunction against the federal contraceptive coverage rules to an Illinois company whose Catholic owners oppose contraception, Reuters reports.
In the lawsuit, Cyril Korte and Jane Korte, who own a construction firm, argued that the rules violate the First Amendment and the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act by requiring them to offer a health plan that includes contraceptive coverage. The Kortes sought to end contraceptive coverage for 20 non-unionized workers and switch to a health plan that does not include the coverage.
Judges Joel Flaum and Diane Sykes said that the plaintiffs had established a reasonable likelihood of winning on the merits of their RFRA claim and that the government has yet to justify the apparent "substantial burden" on the plaintiffs' religious exercise. They also said the Kortes had proven irreparable harm because they would be forced to either offer coverage they opposed or face substantial financial penalties without an injunction.
In a dissenting opinion, Judge Ilana Rovner wrote that the couple was "multiple steps" removed from the contraceptive services (Stempel, Reuters, 12/29/12).