In Short

New lawsuit seeks injunction against Covid-19 vaccine mandate

By: - October 21, 2021 2:53 pm
Gov. Kate Brown

Gov. Kate Brown (Pool photo)

Gov. Kate Brown is facing yet another lawsuit seeking to end her Covid-19 vaccine mandate.

Lawyers for five corrections officers filed the case in Baker County Circuit Court on Wednesday. Four of the plaintiffs work at Powder River Correctional Facility, a minimum security 128-bed prison in Baker City, and the fifth, who lives in Idaho, works at Snake River Correctional Institution in Ontario. It is the largest prison in Oregon.

The suit is the latest seeking an injunction or stay against the mandate, which stipulates that all health care staff, school employees and volunteers and workers in the executive branch be fully inoculated against Covid-19 or have an approved medical or religious exemption. 

Judges in two cases filed in U.S. District Court in Oregon have denied requests for stays. On Monday, the deadline for most employees, a U.S. district judge in Portland rejected a bid for a temporary restraining order in a case brought by 42 Oregonians, including teachers, nurses, a business owner, a school volunteer and a state employee. Judge Michael Simon said that liberty guaranteed by the Constitution “does not import an absolute right in each person to be, at all times and in all circumstances, wholly freed from restraint.” 

Another U.S. District judge, Ann Aiken in Eugene, denied an injunction in a similar case and four state courts have also ruled against plaintiffs seeking to overturn the mandate.

The current case was filed by a food service worker at Powder River who is pregnant and worries about suffering side effects from the shots, the suit said. Another food service worker at Powder River said he objected to “any vaccine that has been made or uses fetal tissue.” 

Decades ago, scientists decided to use cells from aborted fetuses for stem lines, and today those stem lines are widely used in testing drugs. Fetal stem lines were used in the research of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines and in the production of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine but there are no fetal cells in the shots.

A third Powder River employee said in the lawsuit that he has already contracted Covid-19 and that getting inoculated is against his “conscience and personal freedom.” A fourth Powder River employee is a dentist who has also had Covid-19, the petition said, and the fifth plaintiff, who works at Snake River, is a “breastfeeding mother and chooses not to vaccinate due to concerns of passing the untested vaccine to her small child.”

Another lawsuit filed by corrections employees awaits a hearing in early November.

Lawsuit against Gov. Kate Brown and mandate by 5 corrections staff members


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Lynne Terry
Lynne Terry

Lynne Terry has more than 30 years of journalism experience, including a recent stint as editor of The Lund Report, a highly regarded health news site. She reported on health and food safety in her 18 years at The Oregonian, was a senior producer at Oregon Public Broadcasting and Paris correspondent for National Public Radio for nine years. She has won state, regional and national awards, including a National Headliner Award for a long-term care facility story and a top award from the National Association of Health Care Journalists for an investigation into government failures to protect the public from repeated salmonella outbreaks. She loves to cook and entertain, speaks French and is learning Portuguese.