Founder of Domino’s Pizza wins temporary court order to avoid mandated contraceptive coverage as part of the Affordable Care Act.
- Founder of Domino’s Pizza wins temporary restraining order against birth control policy
- Tom Monaghan said covering contraceptives was contrary to the tenets of his Catholic faith
- Domino’s Farms faced about $200,000 in annual penalties for failing to provide insurance
DETROIT — The founder of Domino’s Pizza won a court order that temporarily allows him to avoid Affordable Care Act-mandated contra…for employees at his Ann Arbor, Mich., Domino’s Farms property management company.
A federal court judge granted a temporary restraining order Sunday, citing a First Amendment right to freedom of religion, until a final decision is made.
Tom Monaghan sold Domino’s Pizza in 1998. He was also the owner of the Detroit Tigers from 1983-92.
A devout Catholic who also founded Ave Maria University in southwest Florida, Monaghan argued in a lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan on Dec. 14 that being forced to cover his Domino’s Farms staffers’ contraceptives, such as the Plan B and other morning-after pills, ran contrary to the tenets of his faith. “Gravely immoral practices” is how contraceptives are described in the original lawsuit.
“I’m elated,” said his attorney, Erin Mersino. “This is really what (my client) sought at this point. We’re happy that as of tomorrow, religious freedom won’t be violated.”
U.S. District Judge Lawrence Zatkoff wrote in his opinion that he was issuing the temporary restraining order because the case wouldn’t be resolved before Tuesday, when the Domino’s Farms health care plan year begins.
Insurance companies began to be subjected to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services mandate Aug. 1.
“Abiding by the mandate will substantially burden his exercise of religion,” Zatkoff said. “Because plaintiffs’ claims involve a First Amendment right, and because the court has found some likelihood that plaintiffs’ … claim will succeed on the merits, the court finds that irreparable harm could result to plaintiff.”
The government says the contraception mandate benefits women’s health and removes financial barriers. There are about a dozen similar lawsuits pending nationwide.
In a related issue, a Texas judge Monday ruled that state can cut off funding to Planned Parenthood’s family planning programs for poor women. Judge Gary Harger said that Texas may exclude otherwise qualified doctors and clinics from receiving state funding if they advocate for abortion rights.
Monaghan filed for a temporary restraining order Dec. 21.
If Domino’s Farms, which has 45 full-time and 44 part-time employees, failed to provide health insurance in an attempt to dodge the contraceptives requirement, it would face about $200,000 in annual penalties, according to court documents.