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Fla. clinic seeks $50K in legal fee

August 19, 2016 — A Florida-based abortion clinic this week asked for $50,000 in legal fees after being cleared of allegations that it had provided abortion care outside the scope of its license, News Service of Florida/News 4 JAX reports (News Service of Florida/News 4 JAX, 8/17).

Background

In July 2015, Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) called for an investigation into abortion clinics in the state following the release of misleading videos by the antiabortion-rights group the Center for Medical Progress.

During the investigation, the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) found no fetal tissue law violations. However, AHCA claimed that Bread and Roses Women's Health Center, Aastra Women's Center and three Planned Parenthood clinics provided abortion care during the second trimester of pregnancy even though they were licensed only to provide abortion care in the first trimester.

Laura Goodhue, executive director of the Florida Alliance of Planned Parenthood Affiliates, said the alleged violations were the result of AHCA having inconsistently applied its definition for gestational periods and that centers were in compliance with Florida law. State officials later dropped the allegations against the Planned Parenthood clinics and reached a settlement agreement with Aastra Women's Center.

Bread and Roses lawsuit

In its claims against Bread and Roses, AHCA cited documentation for five abortions provided at the clinic that did not state the dates of the women's last normal menstrual periods. AHCA contended Bread and Roses should be fined $500 for each case, for a total of $2,500.

Kristin Davy, owner and director of Bread and Roses, disputed the allegations. She said ultrasound information included in the patient files showed the time of gestation, which Davy said was standard practice. Davy added that Bread and Roses had been using the same practice to submit reports to AHCA for a decade, throughout which time the clinic has operated under the same license restrictions on abortion care.

In April, Judge Lawrence Stevenson ruled that Bread and Roses had not provided abortion care outside the scope of its license (Women's Health Policy Report, 5/2). He cited "overwhelming factual evidence that Bread [and] Roses did not in fact perform second trimester abortions."

AHCA dropped the complaint after the ruling.

Lawyers seek legal fees from state

On Wednesday, Robert Weiss and Karen Putnal -- Moyle Law Firm attorneys who are representing the clinic -- submitted a request calling on the state Division of Administrative Hearings to pay $50,000 in legal fees and costs.

According to the request, attorney's fees totaled $63,560, with an additional $1,268 in related costs. However, state law imposes a $50,000 cap for awards in such cases (News Service of Florida/News 4 JAX, 8/17).