Firefighter Vaccine Lawsuits in the Headlines

Firefighter vaccine lawsuits are once again in the Fire Law headlines.

In Los Angeles County, a group of 574 firefighters filed suit to challenge the county’s vaccine mandate. The suit was filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court by LA County Free Foundation alleging a violation of the employees’ due process and privacy rights, as well as a violation of the Ralph M. Brown Act, apparently referring to the fact the mandate was not implemented following a public hearing.

Here is a copy of the complaint:

More on the LA County case.

In Illinois, a federal judge refused to grant a preliminary injunction to six Naperville firefighters who filed suit challenging a state-wide vaccine mandate for all health care workers. A written decision was not issued, but will be forthcoming. Here is more on the Naperville decision.

In Washington state, a federal judge refused to order the reinstatement of 25 Spokane firefighters who were challenging a vaccine mandate. This was the second of two lawsuits challenging the Spokane Fire Department vaccine mandate. Here is more on that ruling.

In putting this post together, I thought it might be worth listing the vaccine-challenge lawsuits I have in my database that involve at least one firefighter. Some involve other public employees, but each involve at least one firefighter. Here is what I have:

  • Paul T. Acebedo, et al v. Northern Mariana Islands Department of Fire and Emergency Medical Services, June, 2021
  • Pelekai et al v. State of Hawaii et al, HI, August, 2021
  • Oregon Fraternal Order of Police et al v. Katherine Brown, Governor et al, OR, September, 2021
  • FIREFIGHTERS4FREEDOM v. City of Los Angeles, CA, September, 2021
  • Williams et al v. Brown et al, OR, September, 2021
  • Bauer et al v. Summey, City of North Charleston, SC, September 2021
  • Gdovicak et al v. City of Charleston, SC. September, 2021
  • Tucker et al v. Johnson (Charleston County), SC, September, 2021
  • Herndon et al v. Walz, (St. Johns Fire District), SC, September, 2021
  • Rhode Island Association of Firefighters et al v. Rhode Island Department of Health, RI, September, 2021
  • Halgren Et Al v. City Of Naperville Et Al, IL, September, 2021
  • Jason Wheat et al v. Orange County Fire Rescue, FL, October, 2021
  • Wise et al v. Governor Jay Inslee et al (Spokane Fire), WA, October, 2021
  • Troogstad et al v. City of Chicago et al, IL, October, 2021
  • United SF Freedom Alliance et al v. City and County of San Francisco, CA, October, 2021
  • Uniformed Firefighters Association of Greater NY, Local 94 of the International Association of Fire Fighters v. DeBlasio, NY, October, 2021
  • Bacon et al v. Woodward et al (Spokane), WA, October 2021
  • LA County Free Foundation et al v. County of Los Angeles, CA, November, 2021

Several of these suits were filed in state court and later removed to federal court.

Also, here is an article about a suit brought by French firefighters earlier this year before the European Court of Human Rights challenging their vaccine mandate. Their complaint was dismissed.

If anyone is aware of any other suits involving firefighters, please let me know.

About Curt Varone

Curt Varone has over 45 years of fire service experience and 35 as a practicing attorney licensed in both Rhode Island and Maine. His background includes 29 years as a career firefighter in Providence (retiring as a Deputy Assistant Chief), as well as volunteer and paid on call experience. He is the author of two books: Legal Considerations for Fire and Emergency Services, (2006, 2nd ed. 2011, 3rd ed. 2014, 4th ed. 2022) and Fire Officer's Legal Handbook (2007), and is a contributing editor for Firehouse Magazine writing the Fire Law column.

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