An Idaho hospital is suing militia leader Ammon Bundy, who is accused of harassing staff and blocking an ambulance bay. But serving the defendant with court papers has proved difficult.
In a Monday filing, lawyers for St. Luke’s Health System accused Bundy of trying to avoid his day in court by threatening process servers who deliver his court papers. St. Luke’s contends that Bundy, who leads the right-wing activist group People’s Rights Network, has attempted to intimidate process servers and even a local sheriff’s department when deputies tried delivering documents to his home.
An April 12 letter from the sheriff, including in new court filings, suggests that the sheriff has also given up trying to contact Bundy.
Bundy, who could not be reached for comment, is best known for his confrontational and often armed protests, like a pair of armed standoffs in 2014 and 2016. His current group, the People Rights Network, has also mobilized to antagonize opponents in Idaho, holding aggressive demonstrations outside the homes of a county commissioner who supported COVID-19 precautions and a judge who was overseeing one of Bundy’s many criminal cases.
Bundy and the PRN have cultivated a reputation for intimidating behavior, St. Luke’s lawyers allege.
“Any individual corporate leader, or government official who in some way offends Ammon Bundy and the People’s Rights Network knows they will be attacked online, will face armed protests outside their homes and workplace, and will have to live with the very real threat of violence against themselves and their families,” reads a Monday filing by the hospital’s lawyers.
Bundy and the PRN are accused of doxxing and defaming St. Luke’s staff, after the hospital treated a PRN member’s grandson who was diagnosed with “severe malnourishment,” against the child’s family’s wishes. The baby was returned to his parents after three days of hospital treatment. While protesting the hospital, Bundy was arrested for alleged trespassing after he blocked an ambulance bay, sending the facility into lockdown during which time it was unable to receive ambulances.
Even after the initial furor, Bundy and the PRN continued to fundraise off conspiracy theories about St. Luke’s, “based on defamatory statements about the St. Luke’s Parties and others kidnapping, trafficking, and killing children,” according to the hospital’s lawsuit. The hospital says PRN followers inundated its inboxes and phone lines with death threats and intimidating messages.
Now even process servers are facing threats, St. Luke’s alleges. In its Monday filing, the hospital claims that Bundy has threatened process servers with trespassing charges.
What’s more, the hospital’s lawyers allege, the sheriff in Gem County, Idaho has supported Bundy in those allegations.
“The Sheriff interpreted the criminal trespass statute to apply to process servers and that any process server returning to the Bundy residence could be charged with criminal trespass. This effectively prevents the St. Luke’s Parties from using private process servers,” the Monday filing reads.
The Gem County Sheriff did not return a request for comment. Police stopped at least one process server in March, a St. Luke’s lawyer wrote in an affidavit.
“On or about March 3, 2023, I was informed that a private process server was pulled over by law enforcement officers after serving Bundy at Bundy’s residence,” the filing reads. “The process server was informed that he had been trespassed by Bundy.”
After another legal threat earlier this month, the process server company told St. Luke’s that they would no longer attempt deliveries to Bundy’s home. St. Luke’s turned to the Gem County Sheriff’s department to hand Bundy the court documents—but the sheriff claims his deputies were also threatened.
In an April 12 letter, Gem County Sheriff Donnie Wunder said he was no longer comfortable sending deputies to Bundy’s house.
“Mr. Bundy expressed to me that he feels like he is being harassed by all the papers that have been served on him (by mail and personnel service),” Wunder wrote of a recent phone call with Bundy. “Mr. Bundy went on to say that he is at his breaking point. By the tone in his voice I believe he is. In my opinion, if this continues, there is potential for someone to getting hurt. My concern is with the safety of process servers and my deputies. I do not want to risk harm over a civil issue.”
In its Monday filing, St. Luke’s requested a court order requiring the sheriff to serve Bundy with papers and barring the sheriff from pursuing trespassing charges against other process servers who deliver court documents to Bundy’s house.
Bundy has consistently avoided court proceedings in the case. He skipped a September sanctions hearing and, in a December video, boasted about throwing out legal papers from the case.
“I just throw it all away. I literally just take it from the mail and throw it in the garbage,” he said. “I haven’t responded one bit to them.” He added that “they have servers that come here all the time, knocking on the door, serving papers.”
In that video, he hinted at a new armed standoff, should he lose the court case and have to pay damages.
“They’re suing me for defamation. They’re probably going to try to get judgments of over a million dollars and take everything they have from me,” Bundy said. “And I’m not going to let that happen. I’m making moves to stop that from happening. And if I have to meet ’em on the front door with my, you know, friends and a shotgun, I’ll do that. They’re not going to take my property.”