July 30, 2020

CHD Holds Press Conference with Legal Team and Plaintiffs in NY Lawsuit About Lawful Medical Exemptions Denied to School Children

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Watch the Press Conference with the attorneys and families.

 

Attorneys Sujata Gibson, Michael H. Sussman, and the CHD legal team led by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and Mary Holland filed a class action lawsuit on July 24, 2020 in Federal Court challenging the constitutionality of New York State’s Department of Health regulations that allow school principals to overrule treating physicians on recommendations about medical exemptions to immunization.

The named plaintiffs are eight New York State families whose valid medical exemptions for their school children were overruled. CHD has asked the court to declare the policy unconstitutional and allow children back into school.

“What these families have gone through shocks the conscience,” said lead attorney in the case, Sujata Gibson. “Since the regulation took effect in August 2019, thousands of immunocompromised children in New York have had their treating physicians overruled and have been removed from school.”

In powerful detail, the complaint describes how these families have received multiple exemptions from physicians and specialists, only to have them denied by school officials with no medical training. This widespread practice of rejecting valid medical exemptions is especially bewildering as New York repealed the religious exemption to vaccination in June 2019, arguing that it was to protect immunocompromised and medically vulnerable children.

“My child has suffered enough because of his health condition,” said plaintiff Jane Doe. “Why must he suffer school expulsion and ostracism too?” Treating physicians assert that the policies are preventing them from doing their jobs: “Physicians who are on the ground, caring for these medically vulnerable children, need to be able to defend children’s health without fear of professional and personal threats,” said Lawrence B. Palevsky, MD.

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