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Appeals Court Reinstates Temporary Injunction Against Fla. Clinic

May 27, 2015 — An appeals court on Friday ruled 2-1 to uphold a temporary injunction that prevents Planned Parenthood of Greater Orlando from performing certain abortions at a medical park in Osceola, Fla., the Orlando Sentinel reports (Orlando Sentinel, 5/22).

Case Background

In June 2014, MMB Properties sought an injunction against the clinic, claiming that the facility was violating property restrictions in the Oak Commons Medical Park. Specifically, MMB alleged that the clinic was performing three practices -- operating as an outpatient surgical center, an emergency medical center and a diagnostic imaging center -- that are prohibited within the medical park under the Declaration of Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions. In addition, the complaint said protests targeting the clinic have disrupted the medical businesses inside MMB's building and spurred patient complaints.

In July 2014, the Osceola County Court issued a temporary injunction that barred the clinic from offering abortion services or any other outpatient surgical services or emergency medical services (Women's Health Policy Report, 7/28/14). However, the 5th District Court of Appeals in September 2014 lifted the injunction, stating in its decision that Osceola County Court erred in its ruling.

Ruling Details

In the latest ruling, the 5th District Court of Appeals reversed its decision, ruling that "while the restriction is rather poorly drafted, it is not unclear. It prohibits the property from being used as an outpatient surgical center" (Reed, Osceola News-Gazette, 5/22).

Specifically, the court wrote, "The trial court's findings were that abortions are outpatient surgical procedures; that Planned Parenthood's facility is not a physician's practice of medicine; and, that even if the facility is operated as a physician's practice of medicine, its performance of abortions was not ancillary or incidental to that practice." They added, "Accepting these findings, we affirm the trial court's ultimate finding that MMB had a substantial likelihood of success in proving that Planned Parenthood's performance of abortions at the facility would violate the restrictive covenant" (Orlando Sentinel, 5/22).

Comments

Barbara Zdravecky, interim CEO at PPGO, said, "We are disappointed in today's ruling and will do everything we can to lift the temporary injunction." She added, "We will continue to provide a wide range of essential reproductive health services at our Kissimmee Health Center, including medication abortion, as we do everything we can to protect women's access to care in our community -- no matter what."

Meanwhile, Maureen Arago, an attorney who is representing MMB, said the company was pleased with the ruling (Osceola News-Gazette, 5/22).