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That didn't age well: Bunch of anti-vaxxers sue to overturn Boston's indoor vaccine mandate mere hours before it's lifted; they also want city health board ruled unconstitutional

A group of anti-vaxxers, led by the suspended cop who is part of another group that screams at Michelle Wu's kids about how their mom is Hitler, today filed a federal suit to try to overturn the city's requirement people show proof of vaccination at restaurants and other indoor spaces - hours before Wu announced she was lifting the mandate because of how far Covid-19 statistics in Boston have fallen.

The court issued a summons to the city at 2:13 p.m. that the suit had been filed; there is no indication in the online docket that anybody in the city's legal department had received notice of the suit by roughly 5:52 p.m., when Universal Hub received a copy of a press release from the mayor's office announcing the immediate lifting of the mandate.

Even if the indoor-vaccination-requirement part of their suit, filed in US District Court in Boston, is ruled moot, the 14 people named in the suit also have other issues: They are also seeking to have a judge declare the entire Boston Public Health Commission board unconstitutional - as well as the state law that lets local boards of health declare public-health emergencies. They allege the health commission is unelected and so has no power to enact what are essentially laws and that even in communities where health boards are elected, their emergency pandemic regulations are an affront to the First, Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments. In Boston's case, that means the city is allegedly violating their rights to bodily integrity and religious observance - and their right to keep their personal medical information private.

Nowhere does the 29-page complaint attempt to show why Jaccobson v. Massachusetts, the 1905 Supreme Court decision, still in effect, that allows governments to take extraordinary steps during a health crisis, somehow does not apply. Nor does it attempt to provide a similar rationale for why a December 2020 ruling by the state Supreme Judicial Court that a 1950 civil-defense law allows for emergency orders during a health emergency does not apply.

The 14 plaintiffs all claim discrimination by Boston because they are exercising "sincerely held religious beliefs" that require them not to take what the suit repeatedly calls "vaccinations," as if there is some doubt as if they really are vaccinations. All allege they were, at a minimum, "shocked and dismayed" at the city's nerve in requiring them to show proof of vaccination just to eat a pizza in peace.

Among the plaintiffs are parents of two Northeastern students allegedly outraged their children got "vaccinations," over their parents' wishes, even though Northeastern announced its decision to require vaccinations in April, months before Boston announced its indoor-space vaccination requirement, an unvaccinated home schooler outraged she can't take her unvaccinated son to the Franklin Park Zoo and another unvaccinated mother who says the order has made it impossible to enjoy parenting her two children and worsened her depression.

The list also includes unvaccinated people who claim they lost their jobs or work simply because they refused to get "vaccinations" and a gym owner who claims the order has cost him money because former patrons no longer come in.

Also included: A Mass General Brigham worker who lost her job after refusing the hospital's own vaccination mandate - and who is already part of another suit by Mass General Brigham employees over the hospital mandate, which she now says is also the city's fault, even though the hospital required its workers to get shots by Nov. 5, six weeks before Wu announced the city vaccination requirement and nearly two months before it went into effect.

And then there's the first listed plaintiff, Shana Cottone, a currently suspended BPD sergeant and leader of another group that regularly stands outside Wu's Roslindale home screaming about the city's attempts to force employees to get vaccinated. She says she was forced to endure "public ridicule, embarrassment and severe emotional distress," not because she stands outside the mayor's house with people who routinely shout racial slurs and tell Wu's children their mother is going to jail, but because when she attempted to eat in a Boston restaurant and refused to show proof of vaccination, the restaurant called police on her.

The complaint does not specify which restaurant. However, on Jan. 15, she helped lead a protest march against Boston vaccination mandates, which included a stop at Regina Pizzeria in the Fenway, at which she refused to show any vaccination proof, then refused to leave, at which point workers called police, whom she then proceeded to insult as well.

In addition to lifting the ban that was just lifted and outlawing Boston's public-health agency and prohibiting any local public-health mandates, the group also wants to be awarded damages for their troubles, plus lawyers fees.

Complete complaint (1.3M PDF).

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Comments

So let me get this straight. This lawsuit was filed in federal court at 2PM and 4 hours later, on a Friday evening, the city makes the very news worthy move of rescinding the vaxx passport requirement? Wu says the move was because of COVID metrics? This doesn't pass the smell test. Preserve those communications, grab the popcorn, the discovery process will be revealing.

P.S. "anti-vaxx" is different from "anti-mandate" but we know what you are trying to do by injecting your opinion.

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And that's why I included the information about the docket up top. Unless Shana Cottone and the mayor are secretly good buds, the only way City Hall is going to even know the case has been filed is when they get served with a summons to respond, and there's absolutely nothing in the docket that indicates they were.

Now, I suppose they could have found out like I did: Sign up for the district court's RSS feed (which sends listings of every single document filed in federal court in Massachusetts, roughly updated every ten minutes), then browse all the headers, see a listing for "Cottone vs. Boston Public Health Commission" and go, hmm, what that's about and go to the case docket and download the complaint.

But that's about as likely as Cottone and Wu sitting down for tea, I really doubt anybody at City Hall is just sitting there browsing for new or updated federal cases of potential interest. Sometimes a coincidence is just a coincidence. You might recall that Wu was saying just yesterday the trends gave her hope she could soon lift the proof-of-vaccination requirement.

As for anti-vaxxer and anti-mandate, in general, if you did a Venn diagram, you'd get pretty much two overlapping circles. In this specific case, though, you might want to actually at least glance at the complaint: All 14 plaintiffs specifically state they are opposed to vaccinations (or as they call them "vaccinations"). They don't even get into the parallel indoor mask requirement. So they're anti-vaxxers.

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You can't hold such a dog and pony show on a major policy change on two hours notice. This has zero to do with the lawsuit, as much as it makes you feel special and loved to think that.

And we all know that anti-mandate is antivaxx nonsense with a new name. Meanwhile, the laws on this have been in place for well over a century - pandemics are nothing new, neither are vaccine mandates to combat them. Any new lawsuit is just garbage and nonsense on the pile of garbage and nonsense.

We aren't such special people to enjoy our own pandemic - this shit is as old as people, and not this world's first rodeo.

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Swirly, I agree with you. This is, as you put it, "a major policy change". So they announce such a major policy change, at 6PM, on a Friday evening? Doesn't smell right, don't you agree?

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And maybe they figured they'd want to announce the news right before the weekend, which at least used to be prime restaurant/entertainment time.

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So, should she have kept the mandate in place over the weekend, because you think the story would get more attention Monday morning? As Adam notes, more people want to go out for dinner on Friday and Saturday than on Monday or Tuesday.

Releasing news Friday afternoon is for stories that you don't want people to see, and it doesn't work for stories that are already being watched closely.

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You must have some really amazing rubberbands around to think stretch means anything.

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A major talking point for these attention seekers is their opposition to the vaccine drug testing on fetal cell lines and that testing’s intersection with their myopic views on a woman’s right to choose (which in itself is a contradiction to their main complaint)

A hospital in Arkansas is now requiring employees asking for an exemption under that religious rationale to also attest that they do not/will not use 30 other common meds that also used fetal cell lines in their development, including acetaminophen, albuterol, aspirin, ibuprofen, Tylenol, Pepto Bismol, Tums, Lipitor, Senokot, Motrin, Maalox, Ex-Lax, Benadryl, Sudafed, Preparation H, Claritin, Prilosec, and Zoloft.

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Pope says no.

https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/2021-08/pope-francis-appeal-covi...

But that's funny about the Arkansas hospital.

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Those fetal cell lines derive from a miscarriage that happened decades ago, long before Roe V Wade.

This was an issue with my son's partner's parents, but there are multiple vaccines available and they went for the J&J.

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I’m fully vaxxed, and anti mandate. There are people like me who do feel this way (although I am fully aware I’m likely in the minority with this view, and don’t outwardly try to force it on others).

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LOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOL!

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As someone with experience in municipal law, including some work with Boston's Law Department itself, I can tell you that it's extremely unlikely that anyone there is monitoring the US Court's RSS feed, their litigation attorneys and staff probably have better things to do, and even if they were, it may not count a valid means of service. Generally, for purpose of service, a citation must be physically delivered to the City Clerk's office, the Mayor's office, or the Corporation Counsel (Law Dept), though the rules may have changed on account of the pandemic. The same rules would apply for BPHC, which is a separate corporation from the City of Boston, though it wouldn't surprise me if the plaintiffs in this case did not know that and served only the City and not BPHC. Plus, the docket posted online on PACER would probably indicate parties, and proof and means of service (like via USPS with a return receipt card, in hand by a process server or by US Marshall, etc).

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A woman was killed in Hyde Park tonight yet you overlooked that story to focus on Anti Vaxxers. Before anyone gets their undies in a twist I am 100% pro-vaccination. I just question the sensationalism.

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So, yes, I figured Covid-19 issues were a better use of my time than adding to some poor family's grief.

Also, it was last night.

If you really do want to read about it, rather than just use it as a rhetorical point, Live Boston has a detailed account, with photos from the scene.

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Voting closed 76

Sensationalism is reporting on a nasty accident under "if it bleeds it leads" and ignoring a major policy change.

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And make your own news site.

Hit the pavement, follow leads, pour over reams of mindless press releases, and tweets. Compile, edit, proofread, then publish.

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Adam’s response was great and gave us a greater understanding of what happened. No need to stifle debate.

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... is not exactly the same as "debating".

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That's when you are desperate to change the topic when you have nothing to add.

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So these parents want to have veto power over their adult children's health decisions?

I bet those kids can't get away from home fast enough.

I wonder what these "sincerely held religious beliefs are." They're not Catholic beliefs (the Pope says getting vaccinated is a "moral obligation" and an "act of love"); they're not from any other mainstream Christian sect, or Jewish sect. What is this peculiar church?

I've got it: The Church of the Divine Dickhead. Sacraments include: screaming at children; making messes in public; getting fired for cause...

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...denying the fact that #trumplost, not being able to #getoverit, and raiding federal buildings. Yes, these are the EXACT SAME PEOPLE.

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IMAGE(https://www.balloon-juice.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/02/covid-19-coronavirus-updates-friday-saturday-feb-18-19.png)

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Now I can't tell which side of the argument you are on.

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Thank god there are hundreds of millions more people who believe in vaccines, masks and public health than don’t or a lot more people would be dead now.

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I find it very odd that some of the most flaming maskholes claim to be pro-life, but will then argue that "COVID only kills weak/sick/old people" so we don't have to care.

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Can all of these anti-vax articles go away now. You can always fall back on your Pulitzer winning Storrowing and space saver articles. Pathetic.

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If you don't care to read what I write, that's fine, but just remember nobody's forcing you to actually read articles you're not interested in.

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To the Anon: The fact that the publisher of this news source chooses to publish your insult proves the impotence of your sarcasm.

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If you're asked to leave a private establishment, and you don't, and the police are called, any distress you suffer is self-imposed.

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If you're asked to leave a private establishment, and you don't, and the police are called, any distress you suffer is self-imposed.

I blame Olive Garden. It's the closest that these sad excuses for adults have come to a fine dining experience; as such, they have never heard about, much less experienced, establishments where gentlemen will wear a jacket and tie or they will be invited to dine elsewhere.

If a private establishment can require you to wear a jacket and tie in the name of propriety, they can damn well require you to wear a mask in the middle of a fucking pandemic.

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This filing was done by a lawyer. Did the lawyer provide the service pro bono? A lot of work for no repayment. Did the lawyer provide the work thinking that there would be a monetary reward? Doubt it. The suit is far fetched and is pushing up hill. So the likelihood is that someone is fronting the cash. Who?

We know that there are organizations which are fundamentally anarchist and nihilist. Any organization with any ties to Grover Norquist (reduce gov't to size of baby and drown in bathtub). That suggests the local organization is part of Charles Koch's anti-government Kochtupus.

There are also the anarchists and nihilists that Trump innately encouraged. For as much as Trump is a bigot he also enjoys creating chaos. So he found a sweet spot of bigotry and nihilism.

There will always be nihilists in a democracy where there is a genuine belief in political freedom (albeit becoming dictators if they ultimately won). But the "beauty" of a capitalist economy, where money really does make the world go round, somebody has to pay. So where is the MONEY coming from?

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That’s why no one likes liberals now days. The pandemic is over. Yes people will still get Covid but it’s been two years now and we know a lot more than we did in 2020. It’s time we moved on and act rationally.

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Every time I read someone write some blanket condemnation of "liberals" I think of the blanket condemnations presented in the 30s against Jewish Communists. If the historical connection is not apparent I will explain. The European fascists combined the centuries old disdain, distrust and sometimes out right hatred of Jews by Christians with the new boogeyman called Communists. The combination led to a Golem that was seen as the modern, industrial, urban, industrial version of Satan (at least for anyone who was in the slightest bit Christian).

There was no reality; it was all hysteria with the purpose of grabbing anxiety among millions and turning that anxiety into hatred of one group after another. From Jews to Communists, from Gypsies to Jehovah's Witnesses, from anyone not "pure" to anyone "impure."

To be current the use of liberals in your paragraph reminds me of the blanket prejudicial, bigoted hatred of my "white" relatives for anyone "black."

There is nothing rational in your statement.

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I am a plaintiff on this. This was started months ago. As a business owner who has been battered by Covid who has seen most of the businesses shuttered around me you are going to attack me for practicing my constitutional rights and challenging the Mayors mandates? With the numbers trending down to the level they are and the greatly reduced morbidity of the Omicron strain, we have a very strong case for removing the mandates as we have now seen by the Mayors actions on Friday. This isn’t done, the City Council is convening and will subpoena several individuals to remove the state of emergency in the city. However I do believe We are thru storm. Being part of this suit was the right thing for me to do as a business owner. Perpetual mandates haven’t been good for economics of the city in regards to small business owners. We weren’t the only ones pushing back. Look at the Mass Restaurant Association, the Fire Union, Police Union, etc? We are wrong in practicing our constitutional right in challenging the Mayors actions at this stage of the game? I don’t think so. This isn’t about being anti vax. It’s about being pro choice based on the level of threat in front of us. If this was two years ago during Delta we would be having a different conversation.

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Since we have you here, and as you say

This isn’t about being anti vax.

Why does the court filing repeatedly refer to vaccinations, written in quotation marks as "vaccinations" rather than just a plain word? As best I can tell, they are not being presented as a quotation that needs quotation marks.

Anyways, I don't actually see anyone here "attacking" you (your word) for exercising your constitutional rights to file a lawsuit. And if they were, it's their lawful right to do so, but that isn't even what is happening here.

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Your complaint seems to be that your Constitutional right to challenge the current rules and laws is itself being challenged? First what legal or forceful group is preventing you from exercising your right to a day in court? For all the words in your complaint your do not answer the question you raise.

The complaint about perpetual mandates sounds good but it is full of BUNK! There are thousands of perpetual mandates that make life far better. Ever hear of the Ten Commandments? Including Commandments such as Thou shalt not kill or steal? They are perpetual mandates.

Or, closer to home, how about perpetual mandates that no city homes are to have outhouses but must be connected to sewer systems. That perpetual mandate prevents epidemics such as cholera. So your complaint about perpetual mandates fails. It is meaningless.

How is your business suffering? Please provide facts. We can infer that your business still exists as opposed to the businesses which closed. If your business is still operating then how about some gratitude that not only your business is still running but that you did not die from Covid?

So what is your actual complaint?

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