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Judge denies Ammon Bundy's petition to move St. Luke's case to federal court

U.S. District Judge David Nye on Friday denied a motion filed by Ammon Bundy to move proceedings in the St. Luke's lawsuit against him to federal court.

BOISE, Idaho — A federal judge on Friday denied a motion filed by Ammon Bundy to move proceedings in St. Luke's lawsuit against him to federal court. 

The far-right activist and former gubernatorial candidate filed a petition May 1 to move the defamation case from the 4th Judicial District Court in Ada County to federal court. U.S. District Judge David Nye denied Bundy's request Friday, leaving him with 21 days to respond to the decision. 

In his petition earlier this month, Bundy argued the case should be moved to federal court because people involved in the case live in different states, and the matter exceeds $75,000, among other reasons. 

Bundy also claimed those included in the St. Luke's Health System defamation lawsuit – himself, Diego Rodriquez, Freedom Man PAC, People's Rights Network and Freedom Man Press LLC – have been "put in jeopardy" by exercising their right to free speech and right to assemble. 

Throughout the long and drawn-out battle with St. Luke's, Bundy has largely ignored the legal action and has been absent from proceedings. St. Luke's Health System filed the lawsuit against Bundy in May 2022.

It began with a People's Rights Network (owned by Bundy) days-long protest outside St. Luke's Boise in March 2022, due to a child nicknamed "Baby Cyrus" being taken into custody by child protective services for health problems.

The protest caused the hospital to go on lockdown for hours on March 15, 2022, causing the hospital to deter their emergency services. St Luke's later filed a civil lawsuit against Bundy and his network for defamation after he posted about the hospital on his social media.

Even after that protest, St. Luke's claims Bundy and his friend Diego Rodriguez continued to harass and threaten St. Luke's doctors and staff. The petition filed by Bundy on May 1 said, "Petitioners have been deprived of their right of procedural due process pursuant to the 5th and 6th amendments, and finally the right of equal rights pursuant to the 14th Amendment."

In Friday's order, Nye noted while the citizenship of all 60,000 members of the People's Rights Network is not known, Bundy – the owner – is an Idaho resident. It is also noted that the Freedom Man PAC is registered in Idaho.

Nye writes that "each of the St. Luke's parties are citizens of Idaho," and Bundy lives in Emmett, thus defeating "the complete diversity requirement."

"Having reviewed the complaint, the Notice of Removal, and the rest of the record, the Court must remand this case back to state court because it lacks subject matter jurisdiction, and the Notice of Removal is procedurally defective," Nye's order said.

Again, the St. Luke's Health System lawsuit will remain in the 4th Judicial District Court in Ada County and Bundy has 21 days to respond. The order states defendants can choose to file a reply 14 days after the response deadline.

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