Judges rule civil suits against Planned Parenthood can proceed

.- Two separate Los Angeles Superior Court judges have ruled that the Pro-Family Law Center of Southern California may proceed with lawsuits against Planned Parenthood of Los Angeles. The non-profit organization announced the rulings Tuesday.

In Jones v. Planned Parenthood, a former PPLA employee claims PPLA was and continues to be engaged in unfair business practices, including overcharging the State of California for services and goods, and for violating various labor laws.

If Jones wins, PPLA could have an injunction issued against its continued practices, be put into receivership under California's unfair business practices laws, and be forced to pay restitution to the plaintiff.

In the second case, a former vice-president of PPLA claims PPLA terminated him for bringing up issues related to grossly overcharging the government for prescription drugs, using PPLA grants/donations for employee purchases at Victoria's Secret, and complaining about racism, anti-religious comments, and other discriminatory behavior.

Internal documents allegedly showing that PPLA independent audit findings were sought to be suppressed and concealed from California officials were attached to the complaint. They include comments, such as: "We do not want too many copies of the audit out" and "[w]e want to be as vague [...] because these applications become a matter of public record should any persistent anti-choicer be on the lookout."

Another internal e-mail exhibit reads: "... a very serious matter has reared its ugly head. As you are probably aware, PPLA has been marking up the OCs and the pills dispensed by a hefty markup over cost. This is proscribed by DHS regulations where the prevailing rule is that medicines should be dispensed at cost with a recovery of the dispensing fee (which of course if minimal as compared to normal retail markup). Please let me be clear about this issue we purchase meds at $1 or $2 and sell them for $12 $18 $48. [...] The impact is over $2million bottom line, and approximately $4million in revenues over the course of a typical 12 months."

PPLA filed a motion to strike these exhibits from the court record, but the motion was denied.

Lead Pro-Family Law Center attorney Richard Ackerman says his organization is pleased that they have been allowed to proceed with the cases, which will likely go to trial in Los Angeles in early 2006.

“If we are successful, we may be able to bring justice to the taxpayers who have lost millions of dollars to overcharging and have an opportunity to force Planned Parenthood to live up to the same financial standards applicable to any other entity that feeds itself on tax dollars,” said Ackerman.

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