Former Clinic Owner Sues ‘Anti-Abortion Extremists’

Lawsuit says Susan Cahill and her husband suffered emotional and economic hardships following March 2014 break-in

By Justin Franz
Susan Cahill, middle, hugs a supporter during sentencing of Zachary Klundt in Flathead County District Court. Greg Lindstrom | Flathead Beacon

The owner of a Kalispell health clinic that was destroyed in March 2014 is suing the man responsible for the break-in, his family and a local pro-life resource center.

Susan Cahill and her husband, Steve Martinez, filed a lawsuit in Flathead County District Court against Zachary, Kenny and Twyla Klundt, as well as Michelle Reimer and Hope Pregnancy Ministries on Feb. 3. Zachary Klundt was sentenced to the Montana State Prison last year for breaking into and destroying All Families Healthcare in Kalispell.

The clinic was the sole health care provider in Northwest Montana to offer abortions.

In the lawsuit, Cahill alleges that Zachary Klundt did not act alone in the break-in and accuses his parents, Kenny and Twyla Klundt, and Reimer, of helping the 24-year-old. All three defendants were involved with Hope Pregnancy Ministries, a pro-life resource and pregnancy center headquartered in Kalispell.

“Cahill’s civil lawsuit is a courageous attempt to speak truth to power and let the extremists know that they cannot get away with terrorizing the life and livelihood of medical professionals who perform a legal procedure that saves women’s lives,” reads a press release issued by Cahill and her attorney, Timothy Bechtold.

The lawsuit, which seeks punitive damages, and accuses the defendants of conversion, nuisance, tortious interference with a business relationship, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligent infliction of emotional distress and negligence. The motion demands a jury trial before District Court Judge David M. Ortley.

According to the lawsuit, Cahill and Martinez suffered emotional and economic hardships following the March 2014 break-in. Cahill was forced to retire following the incident and, because of that, she lost wages and had to dip into her retirement funds early. The lawsuit also states that Cahill lost thousands of dollars in equipment.

Prior to the break-in, Cahill had moved All Families Healthcare to a new location after Reimer and Hope Pregnancy Ministries purchased the building she had previously leased and evicted her.

In a statement emailed to the Beacon, Board Chair Joanna P. Wirth said that Hope Pregnancy Ministries denied the allegations outlined in Cahill’s lawsuit.

“The vandalism of All Families Healthcare was deplorable and regrettable, but it has nothing to do with Hope Pregnancy Ministries,” the statement read. “We are currently in the litigation process, and will continue to defend our organization against any claim that our organization was responsible for this vandalism. Hope Pregnancy Ministries has, for the past 17 years, provided compassionate care to thousands of men and women in this community, and will continue to do so regardless of baseless allegations intended to malign an organization (that) has always been above reproach.”

Zachary Klundt was arrested in March 2014 after he broke into All Families Healthcare in Kalispell and destroyed thousands of dollars worth of medical equipment and documents. A year later, Klundt pleaded guilty to felony charges of burglary, criminal mischief and theft.

During a three-day sentencing hearing in June 2015, prosecutors alleged that Klundt’s actions were politically motivated because his family opposed abortion.

According to testimony, Klundt texted his mother just hours before breaking into the health clinic asking, “What is the abortionist’s name?” Klundt’s defense attorney argued that the break-in was not politically motivated and Klundt was intoxicated and looking for drugs.

Klundt received a 20-year sentence to the Montana State Prison with 15 years suspended. A month after sentencing, Klundt filed a notice of appeal with the Montana Supreme Court. Klundt’s attorney has until March 28 to file his opening brief.

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