Judge Dismisses Hospital Workers’ Claim of Vaccine Coercion

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A federal judge has tossed out a lawsuit brought by employees of a Houston hospital contesting a requirement that staff be vaccinated against Covid-19.

U.S. District Judge Lynn Hughes of Houston dismissed the suit Saturday in a scathing ruling: He said the claim from 117 employees of the Houston Methodist Hospital that the requirement amounted to Nazi-era human experimentation was both irrelevant and offensive.

“Equating the injection requirement to medical experimentation in concentration camps is reprehensible,” wrote Hughes, a Reagan appointee. “Nazi doctors conducted medical experiments on victims that caused pain, mutilation, permanent disability, and in many cases, death.”

He added that the hospital’s vaccine requirement didn’t amount to coercion. “Methodist is trying to do their business of saving lives without giving them the Covid-19 virus,” he wrote. “It is a choice made to keep staff, patients, and their families safer.”

Several hospital systems around the country, including New York-Presbyterian, one of the nation’s largest, have mandated vaccines as a condition of employment. In the earliest few weeks of the vaccine rollout, U.S. health officials and experts expressed concerns over the reluctant medical staff who’d refused to get the vaccine or were taking a “wait-and-see” approach.

Last week, Houston Methodist, which has 26,000 employees, suspended 178 workers for failing to get vaccinated by a June 7 deadline. On Saturday night, Marc Boom, the hospital’s president and CEO, said that all employees “have now met the requirements of the vaccine policy and I couldn’t be prouder of them.”

“We can now put this behind us and continue our focus on unparalleled safety, quality, service and innovation,” Boom said in a statement.

The lawsuit was led by Jennifer Bridges, an outspoken Houston nurse, who took her complaints to social media shortly after her employer’s vaccination policy was announced. A Houston lawyer representing the workers said the workers would appeal, the Associated Press reported.

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