Judge denies LAPD officers' lawsuit to block vaccine proof mandate

City News Service
Friday, October 29, 2021
Judge denies officers' lawsuit to block COVID vaccine proof mandate
A Los Angeles federal judge rejected a bid by a group of Los Angeles Police Department officers to immediately overturn the COVID-19 vaccination mandate for city employees.

LOS ANGELES (CNS) -- A Los Angeles federal judge rejected a bid by a group of Los Angeles Police Department officers to immediately overturn the COVID-19 vaccination mandate for city employees, according to court papers obtained Thursday.

The lawsuit, filed last month in Los Angeles federal court, alleges the mandate violates the employees' constitutional rights to privacy and due process. It also contends that data suggests that naturally acquired immunity may provide greater protection against the coronavirus and its variants than vaccine-induced immunity.

An application for a temporary restraining order filed Oct. 24 argues that an online portal to request medical or religious exemptions to vaccinations "has never worked.'' But in his order Wednesday, U.S. District Judge R. Gary Klausner ruled that the argument is "fatally undermined'' by the fact that all 13 plaintiffs have apparently managed to file notices of intent to request exemptions.

"Plaintiffs have not carried their burden of showing irreparable harm'' from the alleged lack of an online submission portal, Klausner wrote in response to one of four plaintiff arguments the judge rejected.

A Nov. 22 hearing is scheduled to discuss the issues brought up by the application.

The suit takes issue with the ordinance's statement that unvaccinated employees are at a greater risk of contracting and spreading COVID-19 within the workplace and risk transmitting the virus "to the public that depends on city services.''

The plaintiffs -- currently 13 LAPD officers -- argue that "the city does not provide any evidence to support this premise, despite mounting data suggesting fully vaccinated individuals contract and transmit the COVID-19 Delta variant just like non-vaccinated individuals.''

Villanueva says COVID vaccine mandate for LASD employees is 'imminent threat to public safety'

Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva criticized the COVID-19 vaccine mandate for Sheriff's Department employees, describing the requirement as an "imminent threat to public safety."

Among the group are officers who could not assert a medical or religious exemption to the vaccine requirement and some who have "experienced and recovered'' from COVID-19, the suit states.

"Studies indicate that these plaintiffs' natural antibodies and immunity are greater than their vaccinated peers,'' plaintiffs allege.

Along with the city, the complaint names Mayor Eric Garcetti, LAPD Chief Michel Moore and City Administrative Officer Matthew Szabo as defendants.

Garcetti has said that the vaccination requirement would save lives.

"My first responsibility is to protect lives,'' the mayor said.

"It's not a difficult decision, 91% of the people dying in our hospitals are not vaccinated and you're 11 times more likely to die without the vaccination.''

He said that city employees "interact with the public. We can't be out there and be spreading something that kills. This is pretty simple. People have their legal rights but we're not going to back away.''

The suit argues that there's no evidence that natural-acquired immunity is not as effective as the jab.

"The city does not and cannot point to any evidence that vaccinated individuals have longer lasting or more complete immunity than those who have recovered from COVID,'' according to the complaint.