Bundy files to move St. Luke’s case to federal court. He never showed up in state court

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Less than a week after an Ada County judge ruled that far-right activist Ammon Bundy had essentially forfeited a lawsuit against him for repeatedly not appearing in court, Bundy has petitioned to transfer the St. Luke’s Health System case to federal jurisdiction.

In a filing with U.S. District Court for the District of Idaho, Bundy alleged that the case “involves Federal Civil Rights violations against Petitioners” and accused St. Luke’s of purposefully overwhelming the defendants with filings.

St. Luke’s filed the lawsuit last May after Bundy and an associate, Diego Rodriguez, led protests outside the Boise hospital over a child welfare case involving Rodriguez’s grandchild, the Idaho Statesman previously reported. The lawsuit named as defendants Bundy, Rodriguez, Bundy’s People’s Rights Network and other business entities affiliated with both men.

The defamation suit claims, among other things, that the defendants posted lies about the hospital system online and did so to try to raise money for their causes. Bundy, who originally filed to run for governor in Idaho’s Republican primary, eventually was part of the gubernatorial race as an independent candidate.

In his filing, Bundy said the case should be moved to for several reasons. He alleged that both St. Luke’s and the state court had used “heavy-handed tactics” to deprive him of due process. He claimed the court allowed the hospital to amend its complaint four times.

“Petitioner Ammon Bundy, has never appeared in the State Case, due to the tens of thousands of documents thrust upon him,” the filing stated, noting that Bundy was representing himself.

Another reason the case should be moved to federal court, according to Bundy’s filing, is because Rodriguez now lives in Florida.

Erik Stidham, St. Luke’s attorney, said the hospital has “no problem” with either state or federal court, but said there is “no legal basis for federal jurisdiction in this case.”

“St. Luke’s believes this is a desperate delay tactic by Bundy and PRN to avoid accountability for their cynical grift that shut down a hospital and hurt good people who did nothing but provide desperately needed medical care to an infant,” Stidham told the Idaho Statesman in an email Monday.

Stidham also said the timing of Bundy’s filing was “telling.”

Last week, 4th District Judge Lynn Norton issued a default judgment against Bundy. Such an order means that because the defense failed to participate in the litigation, the plaintiff’s allegations will be taken as true and the court will move to the next step in the legal process by determining damages.

Bundy failed to appear in court four times and refused to comply with discovery requests.

Bundy has several legal issues to deal with. He is facing a warrant for contempt charges, a deposition ordered by the state where he will have to answer questions under oath, a court-ordered disclosure of financial information about his People’s Rights Network group and a hearing to decide damages.