A district judge has rejected a lawsuit challenging Ochsner Lafayette General's vaccine mandate.
Judge Thomas Frederick dismissed the case, saying that Ochsner is a private employer the mandate is not unlawful or unconstitutional.
This is the first of two lawsuits filed; the second is pending against Our Lady of Lourdes. The suits asked the court to issue a temporary restraining order against the mandates.
The plaintiffs hoped that the court would declare the mandates "unlawful and unenforceable" and issue a permanent injunction preventing the hospitals from enforcing their mandates.
Jimmy Faircloth, who represents the 48 plaintiffs, says the mandate is a violation of privacy based on Article 1, Section 5 of the state constitution, which says people have the right to refuse medical care.
Meanwhile, the hospital's representative, Jim Gibson, says Ochsner's mandate shows their commitment to the health of its patients and employees. He says if the plaintiffs don't want to get the vaccine, they can work somewhere else.
Faircloth argues this is not a case about the efficacy of the vaccine or its FDA approval, but a case about employee rights, adding there's still a long road ahead.
"This is tough fight. You gotta come out, you gotta beat the system to do this. This is just one round. There's gonna be suits filed all over the state, with other districts ruling on identical issues and it will probably go to courts of appeal before it gets to the Supreme Court," said Faircloth. "This is the first step in a much larger and I think very important fight. A fight worth having for sure."
Gibson says Ochsner believed in their case from the beginning and his client's priority continues to be patients and employees.
Thursday evening, Ochsner responded to Judge Frederick's rejection to the plaintiffs' lawsuit:
“We are pleased with the judge’s decision today and would like to move beyond this lawsuit so we can continue to focus on healing our community and providing lifesaving care. At Ochsner Lafayette General, we remain committed to our mission to restore, maintain and improve health, and we will continue to encourage everyone to get vaccinated against COVID-19 in order to keep our patients, our employees and our communities safe," said Patrick Gandy, Ochsner Lafayette General CEO.
The hearing for Our Lady of Lourdes is scheduled for a later date.
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