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Jury finds Planned Parenthood not liable for Colorado Springs shooting

A jury sided with Planned Parenthood after several victims of a 2015 shooting claimed the clinic should have had better security.

DENVER (CN) — A Denver jury has found Planned Parenthood not liable for the 2015 attack on a Colorado Springs health clinic.

“This is not a time to celebrate, it’s a time to remember the victims of this horrific tragedy,” said attorney Kevin Taylor of the firm Taylor Anderson, who represented Planned Parenthood.

On Nov. 27, 2015, Robert Dear pulled into the Planned Parenthood Colorado Springs Health Center armed with four SKS rifles, two handguns, a shotgun, a rifle and a propane tank. Intending to wage a war against the fertility clinic which provides abortions, the then-57-year-old Dear fired hundreds of bullets at patients and staff both in the parking lot and inside the facility.

Dear took his first victim's life within one minute of his arrival then killed two others including a police officer during his five-hour ambush on the facility.

Federal prosecutors indicted Dear in 2019, but it remains to be seen whether he will be found mentally fit to stand trial.

Five people sued Planned Parenthood in 2016, including Samantha Wagner whom Dear shot in the parking lot, along with her friends. The clinic had no fence or gate restricting access to the building, and while Planned Parenthood had an armed and trained security guard, he worked part-time and was off duty when Dear attacked. The plaintiffs highlighted security failures, but Planned Parenthood countered that the building’s setup protected 22 people who were in the health clinic that day.

A Colorado judge initially granted summary judgment in favor of Planned Parenthood, but the Colorado Court of Appeals reversed in February 2019 and the state Supreme Court affirmed.

Following seven days of testimony, the jury deliberated throughout Wednesday before ultimately issuing a complete verdict in favor of Planned Parenthood. 

“Addressing gun violence and mass violence is a complex issue, but one solution is not to hold victimized landowners responsible for the actions of a mad man with weapons of war,” Taylor said.

A Planned Parenthood spokesperson reiterated the organization's belief in the rights of its clients to receive care without threats of violence.

“We stand firm in our belief that every person in our community, and our country, should be able to go to any health center without fear of harassment or violence,” spokesperson Whitney Phillips said in an email. “Despite the passage of time, the memories of November 2015 are no less painful. We will never forget the lives that were lost that day and all the lives were forever changed.”

The plaintiffs were represented by the Colorado Springs firm McCormick and Murphy, which declined to comment on the case.

Second Judicial District Court Judge Chris J. Baumann, appointed by former Governor John Hickenlooper, presided over the trial.


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