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Cincinnati, OH (Nov. 20, 2014) – The Ohio Department of Health today approved Planned Parenthood Southwest Ohio’s variance request and renewed the ambulatory surgical facility’s operating license. This decision demonstrates that the ODH agrees that the emergency back-up plan that Planned Parenthood has in place provides complete protection to Planned Parenthood patients should care be needed outside of the clinic.

“We are pleased that ODH has approved the emergency plan we have in place for patients,” said Jerry Lawson, CEO of Planned Parenthood Southwest Ohio. “This ruling will ensure that women in Southwest Ohio continue to have access to safe and legal abortion.”

Based on this development, Planned Parenthood plans to dismiss the lawsuit filed earlier this month because the clinic license is no longer at risk. Attorney Al Gerhardstein stated, “It is unfortunate that Planned Parenthood had to wait over 14 months and then file suit before receiving this decision but it is good to have this problem behind us.”

About Planned Parenthood Southwest Ohio Region: Serving 20 counties in Southwestern Ohio and three in Northern Kentucky, Planned Parenthood Southwest Ohio strengthens the community by providing access to high quality health care and education that empower people to make informed private decisions about their reproductive lives and sexual health. With seven health centers throughout the region, it is Planned Parenthood’s mission to provide: reproductive health care services to any individual who wants or needs them, to advocate public policies which guarantee each individual’s access to services, to advocate individual’s right to privacy and their ability to make reproductive decisions free of coercion, and to provide human sexuality education which enhances the health and well-being of individuals in the community. Planned Parenthood Southwest Ohio Region is an affiliate of Planned Parenthood Federation of America.


“With more than 62% of the US population residing in a state where same-sex couples have marriage equality, we must ensure that all those same-sex marriages are recognized when those couples cross into Ohio.”

(Cincinnati, OH, November 14, 2014) — Today Gerhardstein & Branch, along with Lambda Legal and the ACLU, filed a petition asking the U.S. Supreme Court to review the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals’ aberrant ruling upholding discriminatory bans on marriage rights for same-sex couples in Ohio and three other states.  The Sixth Circuit is the only federal circuit court after the Supreme Court’s watershed 2013 Windsor ruling to uphold such bans and departs from recent decisions from the Fourth, Seventh, Ninth and Tenth Circuits, which have led to marriage rights for same-sex couples in many more states throughout the country.

The joint filing covers two lawsuits filed by Gerhardstein & Branch: Henry v. Hodges, joined by Lambda Legal, seeking to compel the State of Ohio to recognize the legal marriages of same-sex couples and issue accurate birth certificates, and Obergefell v. Hodges, joined by the ACLU, seeking to order the State to issue accurate death certificates to married same-sex couples.

“We have reached a tipping point, and the lives of thousands of same-sex spouses and their families hang in the balance. The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals’ ruling shines a spotlight on our divided country, where married same-sex couples are either respected or discriminated against, depending on where they live or even where they travel,” said Susan Sommer, Director of Constitutional Litigation for Lambda Legal. “As we have learned from other historic cases like Loving v. Virginia and Lawrence v. Texas, there comes a time when the U.S. Supreme Court weighs in, and provides the answer,–on the question of marriage for same-sex couples we believe that time has come.”

Henry v. Hodges was filed in February 2014. All plaintiff couples are seeking recognition of their marriages for all purposes, from respect for their parentage of their children to how they must pay their taxes.  Most urgently, they seek accurate birth certificates naming both spouses as the parents of their babies. The Ohio Department of Health, the agency charged with issuing birth certificates whose Director is the Defendant in the case, refused to issue or amend birth certificates for same-sex parents.

In Obergefell v. Hodges, the state appealed a federal court ruling that Ohio must respect the marriages of same-sex couples legally performed in other states for the purpose of listing surviving spouses on death certificates.

“We look forward to presenting our arguments on behalf of our plaintiff families and all Ohio same-sex couples in front of the highest court in the land,” said Al Gerhardstein, Attorney for Gerhardstein & Branch. “With more than 62% of the US population residing in a state where same-sex couples have marriage equality, we must ensure that all those same-sex marriages are recognized when those couples cross into Ohio.”

Henry and Obergefell demonstrate the importance of marriage to families from the cradle to the grave, from the birth of their children through the death of a spouse and beyond.

“It’s profoundly unfair for Ohio to tell these couples that their lawful marriages meant nothing and that their spouses are legal strangers. When you’re married, you’re married, no matter whether you travel or move to another state.” said James Esseks, director of the ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender and HIV Project, “The country needs a uniform rule on respect for marriage, and only the Supreme Court can give it to us.”

Read today’s filing here.

In August, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals also heard arguments in five more cases challenging discriminatory marriage laws in every state in the Circuit, including cases Michigan, Kentucky and Tennessee in addition to Ohio.

James D. Esseks, Chase B. Strangio, and Steven R. Shapiro, of the ACLU, and Susan Sommer, Paul Castillo and M. Currey Cook, of Lambda Legal join Al Gerhardstein, Jennifer Branch, Jaci Gonzales Martin, and Adam Gerhardstein of Gerhardstein & Branch, and Ellen Essig and Lisa Meeks of Cincinnati as counsel for the petitioners.


‘While a tidal wave of courts around the nation have struck down marriage bans, this decision leaves Sixth Circuit states in a backwater and, worst of all, injures same-sex couples and their children.’

(Cincinnati, OH, November 6th, 2014) — Today the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld as constitutional bans on marriage rights for same-sex couples in Ohio, Michigan, Kentucky and Tennessee, becoming the first federal circuit court after the Supreme Court’s watershed 2013 Windsor ruling to uphold such bans and departing from recent decisions from the 4th, 7th, 9th and 10th Circuits. The decision applies to six lawsuits from all four states; Lambda Legal joined the case Henry v. Himes, filed by Gerhardstein & Branch, a federal lawsuit seeking to compel the State of Ohio to recognize the marriages of same-sex couples and issue accurate birth certificates listing both parents for the Ohio-born children of married same-sex couples.

“We’re extremely disappointed for the families in these four states, but this decision highlights the need for the U. S. Supreme Court to right this injustice.  While a tidal wave of courts around the nation have struck down marriage bans, this decision leaves Sixth Circuit states in a backwater and, worst of all, injures same-sex couples and their children,” said Susan Sommer, Director of Constitutional Litigation for Lambda Legal. “Depriving same-sex couples and their families of the protections and dignity that come with marriage is flat out unconstitutional, and Lambda Legal vows to continue working until justice is won.”

“Our clients and their children need the full protections of marriage, and they need them now,” said Al Gerhardstein, Attorney for Gerhardstein & Branch. “The Sixth Circuit’s refusal to recognize marriages of same-sex couples relegates them to a second-class status for no legitimate reason.  We will continue to fight for love and commitment, and won’t stop until the law recognizes the importance of our families’ marriages and their need for the security that comes from accurate birth certificates.”

Henry v. Himes was filed in February 2014. Plaintiffs include Brittani Henry and Brittni Rogers, a married same-sex couple and the parents of a baby boy born in May 2014; Georgia and Pamela Yorksmith, who married in California in 2008 and have a three-year-old son born in Ohio and another baby born in June 2014; Kelly Noe and Kelly McCracken, married in Massachusetts in 2011, with a son born in June 2014 in Ohio; and Joseph J. Vitale and Robert Talmas, a married same-sex couple living in New York City and the parents of an adopted son born in Ohio.

All plaintiff couples are seeking recognition for their marriages and accurate birth certificates listing both parents. The Ohio Department of Health, the agency charged with issuing birth certificates whose Director is the Defendant in the case, has refused to issue or amend birth certificates for same-sex parents.

This case, along with Obergefell v. Himes, also on appeal, demonstrates the importance of marriage to families through the life span, from the birth of their children through the death of a spouse and beyond. In the Obergefell case, in which Gerhardstein is lead counsel, the state appealed a federal court ruling that the state of Ohio must respect the marriages of same-sex couples legally performed in other states for the purpose of listing surviving spouses on death certificates.

In April, a federal district court declared in the Henry case that Ohio’s ban on recognizing out-of-state marriages of same-sex couples is unconstitutional in all respects. The opinion further extended “heightened scrutiny” – a high level of judicial review – to Ohio’s discrimination against same-sex married couples and their children. The Court also held that the state violates the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the Constitution by denying recognition to out-of-state adoption decrees of same-sex couples and by refusing to amend the birth certificates of their Ohio-born adopted children. At the same time, the court stayed its own decision for all but the plaintiff families until the conclusion of the court proceedings.

“We only want what’s best for our son, and he shouldn’t have any unnecessary and discriminatory obstacles placed in his way,” said Brittani Henry. “We are both his mothers and his birth certificate should show that he is loved and parented by two caring, committed women.”

In August, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals also heard arguments from five more cases challenging discriminatory marriage laws in every state in the Circuit, including Obergefell v. Himes, also challenging Ohio’s marriage recognition ban, and cases from Michigan, Kentucky and Tennessee.

Attorneys for Ohio Plaintiffs are Al Gerhardstein, Jennifer Branch, Jacklyn Gonzales Martin and Adam Gerhardstein of Gerhardstein & Branch and Lisa Meeks of Newman & Meeks, Ellen Essig of Cincinnati, and Susan Sommer, Director of Constitutional Litigation for Lambda Legal, along with Lambda Legal attorneys Paul Castillo and M. Currey Cook.


On February 14, 2011, Plaintiff Tommy Baker was in his home, standing at the top of a flight of stairs to his basement. A Union Township police officer entered his home and tased Baker without justification. Baker fell down the flight of stairs and suffered severe injuries, including a broken neck. District Court Judge Michael Barrett denied Union Township and its officer’s motion for summary judgment. Defendants appealed.

On September 19, 2014 the U.S. Sixth Circuit of Appeals affirmed, finding that the officer’s actions were objectively unreasonable and thus violated Baker’s constitutional rights. At the time of the tasing Baker was a non-violent misdemeanant suspect who had been, but was no longer, fleeing, standing at the top of an observable staircase and offering no resistance or indication of aggression. The officer gave no warnings or commands – he simply tased Baker, incapacitating him, causing him to fall down the stairs and suffer a broken neck. The Court also held that Union Township could not appeal the district court’s ruling because Plaintiff sought to hold the municipality liable under a theory of ratification for failing to investigate.

Plaintiff anticipates a trial date will be set for early 2015.


On November 18, 2014, in Cincinnati, Al Gerhardstein will teach a portion of the National Business Institute course, “Handling the Police Liability Claim.”  He will focus his presentation on common liability issues, including excessive force, pursuit, wrongful arrest and malicious prosecution, false imprisonment, shooting incidents, and more.  Expect an interactive and engaging presentation. NBI’s description of the entire course is:

Police liability claims are on the rise. Do you have the knowledge to handle this type of case from start to finish? Are you up to date with the ins and outs of state and federal law involving civil actions against police departments and officers? Join us at this practical seminar and learn how to overcome any obstacle you may encounter with a police liability claim – register today!

  • Stay current on state law involving civil actions against police departments and officers.
  • Equip yourself to handle liability issues under Section 1983.
  • Get up to speed on the most common police officer liability issues like excessive force and wrongful arrest.
  • Better understand the police investigation process and know what documents are available for discovery.
  • Understand the statutory immunities that are afforded to police officers.
  • Confidently bring or defend against police liability claims with practical tips from seasoned attorneys.

The course will be held at the Holiday Inn Eastgate, 4501 Eastgate Boulevard, Cincinnati, Ohio 45245.  You can Register Here.


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