Attorneys for a chain of three Michigan late-term abortion clinics are claiming their client cannot afford to pay $350,000 in attorney fees to lawyers who successfully defended Gregg Cunningham and the Center for Bio-Ethical Reform in Northland’s frivolous lawsuit against them.

In 2011 Northland Family Planning Centers sued CBR for posting what it called “the most shocking 4-minute abortion debate you will ever see,” which juxtaposed a video produced by Northland touting “the goodness” of abortion with cuts showing the reality of abortion.

Northland claimed copyright infringement, and CBR counterclaimed protection under the Fair Use trademark law.

Six weeks ago Judge James Selna of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California dismissed Northland’s lawsuit on a Motion for Summary Judgment, meaning he thought Northland’s case was too weak to even bring to trial.

Because Northland’s case was deemed frivolous, attorneys at the American Freedom Law Center, which represented CBR, filed a petition for award of its fees of $350,000.

On June 30, Northland’s attorney group, Simpson, Thacher & Bartlett, responded by claiming Northland is almost broke and cannot pay the fees, submitting a statement by accountant Steven J. Plotnik:

In the 12 months ending June 30, 2012, Northland operated at a loss of $1,418. In the prior 12 months ending June 30, 2011, Northland’s income was $18,728.

Of course, those numbers are fishy. Three abortion clinics netted altogether less than $20,000 in one year? Cunningham has directed AFLC to pursue the financial award, which would likely bankrupt Northland.

ST&B also claims it represented Northland pro bono, which is odd. ST&B is the largest intellectual property law firm in the United States, and it flew a jaw-dropping seven attorneys to be present in the courtroom. What seems more likely is it only agreed to drop its fees after losing in such an embarrassing defeat.

Furthermore, as Cunningham wrote in an email about chain owner Renee Chelian (pictured right):

What I suspect Ms. Chelian is doing as an asset protection strategy is siphoning off virtually all Northland revenue in salary and benefits so there is nothing left to lose, in case her clinics ever lose a lawsuit, as happened in her recklessly meritless claim against CBR.  I have, therefore, asked our lawyers to explore all feasible means of pursuing Ms. Chelian’s personal assets to satisfy this fee award.

I want to make an example of Ms. Chelian by staying on the offensive and going after her personal assets, particularly if there is evidence that she has been paying herself inordinately lavish compensation to fraudulently avoid corporate liability for this sort of harassing lawsuit.

It is contrary to the public interest for the courts to permit business entities to intentionally operate without reserves which are adequate to meet their legitimate and foreseeable business responsibilities.  ‘

At a minimum, I want all the other abortionists who are closely monitoring Ms. Chelian’s humiliation in this case to think twice before they consider filing a similarly frivolous lawsuit against their anti-abortion critics.

Here again, is CBR’s disputed video. WARNING: Graphic

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