Clinic Break-in Civil Suit Scheduled for Trial

Relatives of man convicted of vandalizing valley’s only abortion provider file motion to dismiss case

By Justin Franz
Zachary Klundt hugs a supporter during his sentencing in Flathead County District Court on June 16, 2015. Greg Lindstrom | Flathead Beacon

A lawsuit filed against the man convicted of vandalizing the valley’s only abortion provider and his family is expected to go to trial early next year.

District Court Judge David M. Ortley issued a scheduling order earlier this month about six weeks after Susan Cahill filed a lawsuit against Zachary, Kenny and Twyla Klundt, as well as Michelle Reimer and Hope Pregnancy Ministries. Zachary Klundt was sentenced to the Montana State Prison last year for breaking into and vandalizing All Families Healthcare in Kalispell.

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 affiliated with Hope Pregnancy Ministries, a pro-life resource and pregnancy center headquartered in Kalispell.

The scheduling order gives attorneys on both sides various deadlines to meet and sets a pre-trial conference for Jan. 4, 2017. A jury trial will then be set for the court term beginning on Jan. 30.

The lawsuit 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.

According to the lawsuit, Cahill and her husband, Steve Martinez, suffered emotional and economic hardships following the March 2014 break-in. Cahill said she 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.

On March 25, an attorney for Twyla Klundt, Michelle Reimer and Hope Pregnancy Ministries filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit. On March 29, Kenny Klundt filed a similar motion. In both motions, attorneys argue that Cahill failed to state a claim for which relief could be made. The defendants also alleged that they should not be held responsible for Zachary Klundt’s actions and they had no control or influence on the man convicted of the crime.

“Twyla Klundt’s biological relationship to her son does not render Twyla liable for Zachary’s actions and vandalism,” the lawsuit reads. “The Complaint does not allege Zachary is a minor, which he is not. Zachary is an adult. Although there is a legal basis to hold a parent liable for the actions of their minor children, that law is inapplicable to adult children.”

The motion to dismiss also denies allegations made in the initial lawsuit that the defendants had illegally evicted Cahill from a previous office space because of their beliefs. Prior to the 2014 break-in, Cahill had moved All Families Healthcare to a new location after Reimer and Hope Pregnancy Ministries purchased the building she was in and evicted her.

On April 12, the attorney representing Cahill and Martinez filed a response to the motions to dismiss. In the nine-page document, the attorney defended the initial complaint. The attorney also included information about a text exchange between Zachary Klundt and his mother in which the young man asks Twyla Klundt where Cahill’s office is.

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.

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.