6 state workers sue Brown, OHA director over vaccine mandate

Coronavirus

The plaintiffs are claiming their "natural immunity" from previously having COVID-19 protects them as much as a vaccine can

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Six Oregonians are suing Governor Kate Brown and the head of the Oregon Health Authority over the recently announced vaccine mandate.

Six people, all represented by the Freedom Foundation, have filed a lawsuit over the governor’s order that requires all state, healthcare and school employees to be fully vaccinated by October 18 — or risk termination. The complaint claims all plaintiffs have previously been infected with COVID-19 and are therefore naturally immunity to the virus that has killed over 650,000 people in the United States alone.

The plaintiffs include Aurora Fire and Rescue Chief Joshua Williams, Klamath Falls Orthodontics Office Manager and Treatment Coordinator Jennifer Lewis, Beaverton school bus driver David Klaus, Oregon Department of Justice Assistant Special Agent in Charge Phillip Kearney, along with two Oregon Department of Corrections employees, Jay Hicks and and Michael Miller.

The lawsuit was filed in Eugene and names Gov. Brown and OHA Director Patrick Allen as defendants. It claims plaintiffs each have been or will be materially damaged if they get fired due to their refusal to be vaccinated.

“The Governor’s orders fail to take into account natural immunity which current studies show to be just as — if not more — effective than any vaccine,” Oregon Director of the Freedom Foundation Jason Dudash said. “These mandates are about control and not based in any science, which is consistent with what we’ve seen come out of the Governor’s mansion this past year, as well as the White House”.

The complaint argues the state has “no compelling interest in coercing plaintiffs into taking a COVID-19 vaccine, because Oregon has no compelling interest in treating employees with natural immunity any differently from employees who obtained immunity from a vaccine, nor is mandatory vaccination an appropriate least-restrictive means for the state to achieve any compelling interest.”

FDA granted full approval to Pfizer’s vaccine in late August — it now carries its strongest endorsement of safety and effectiveness. Moderna has also applied for full approval of its vaccine, and Johnson & Johnson hopes to apply later in the year.

This suit comes as state health officials say the rate of COVID-19 in unvaccinated people is currently approximately five times higher than in vaccinated people.

 Nearly 81% of new COVID cases in Oregon for the week ending September 4 were among the unvaccinated, the OHA said in their daily report Thursday. The OHA also reported another 2437 new confirmed/presumptive cases spread over 33 of Oregon’s 36 counties, along with 21 new deaths.

Cumulatively, 294,392 cases have been confirmed in the state since the pandemic began. A total of 3,394 Oregonians have died.

This lawsuit is not the only litigation to come against Brown following the vaccine mandate.

Last week, a group of Oregon State Police troopers and Klamath County-based firefighters filed a lawsuit against Brown. The lawsuit, filed in Jefferson County Circuit Court, states the plaintiffs are the Oregon Fraternal Order of Police along with troopers from around the state, including a Major Crimes Sergeant and a state police Captain, and a Kingsley Firefighters Association, which represents all firefighters at Kingsley Field in Klamath County and names the governor and the state of Oregon as defendants.

The group is asking a judge to declare one of Brown’s August executive orders requiring state workers to be fully vaccinated “unenforceable” because the executive order allegedly works against existing Oregon statutes and would result in wrongful termination of employees, according to the lawsuit.

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