A federal judge declined to enjoin or restrain Kentucky’s largest hospital group from requiring employees to be vaccinated against Covid-19.
United States District Court Judge David L. Bunning denied the request for a temporary restraining order and/or preliminary injunction yesterday. Judge Benning said plaintiffs in the case of Christy Beckerich, et al. vs. St. Elizabeth Medical Center, et al., didn’t establish a strong likelihood of success on any of their claims.
Judge Bunning added that, since St. Elizabeth Medical Center is not a state actor, Plaintiffs’ constitutional claims didn’t apply and, thus, have zero likelihood of success on the merits. “Plaintiffs have failed to show that irreparable harm will result in the absence of injunctive relief, weighing heavily against the granting of injunctive relief,” Bunning said in his 20-page decision. “Lastly, no Plaintiff in this case is being forcibly vaccinated.”
The plaintiffs told the court they were concerned about the vaccine’s safety and efficacy. They presented opinions of medical professionals who share the same suspicions. “But unfortunately, suspicions cannot override the law, which recognizes Defendants’ right to set conditions of employment,” Bunning said.
The judge cited the Supreme Court decision in the 1905 case Jacobson v. Massachusetts as a binding precedent regarding vaccines. “There are manifold restraints to which every person is necessarily subject for the common good,” wrote Justice John Marshall Harlan.
The judge said there were easier cases where courts have rationalized that each of us trade off our individual liberties every day in exchange for employment. Bunning acknowledged plaintiffs right to bodily integrity before reasoning against their claim.
“Yet, to work at St. Elizabeth, Plaintiffs agree to wear a certain uniform, to arrive at work at a certain time, to leave work at a certain time, to park their vehicle in a certain spot, to sit at a certain desk and to work on certain tasks,” Bunning wrote, adding, “They also agree to receive an influenza vaccine, which Defendants have required of their employees for the past five years.”
The plaintiffs believe the best way to end the pandemic is to let natural immunity take its course. St. Elizabeth, however, made their own choice about how to end the pandemic. “They chose to require their employees to get vaccinated, to ‘assist our community in becoming the healthiest in America and to safeguard the health and well-being of associates, [their] patients, visitors, and others who spend time in [their] facilities.'”
The aggrieved hospital employees believe their individual liberties should trump the hospital group’s choice to require vaccination of their employees, in St. Elizabeth’s quest to protect its business and its community. The competing ideals prompted Bunning to question which constitutes the “greater good.”
“Is the ‘greater good’ made up of many different individual liberties, is it a singular collective liberty, or is it both?”
The plaintiffs claimed(pdf) the issues of both COVID-19 and the vaccines against it are a “fraud upon the public from government, pharmaceutical, social media, mainstream media, corporate America, healthcare and political parties.” They further claimed, “Americans are not receiving an FDA approved vaccine.” As the time of their filing, the FDA had granted emergency authorization for three vaccines and full authorization for one.
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