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Judge denies City of Gainesville’s motion for reconsideration of injunction against vaccine mandate

BY JENNIFER CABRERA

Today, Circuit Judge Monica Brasington issued an order denying the City of Gainesville’s motion to reconsider her temporary injunction against the City’s vaccine mandate for employees.

In the order, Brasington writes that the City did not present any evidence “that would have allowed the Court to consider whether the Vaccine Mandate served a compelling interest through the least restrictive means, or any other standard… The City’s Motion for Reconsideration raised additional legal arguments but did not provide any newly-discovered evidence.”

Brasington also writes that the federal cases offered by the City are “inapplicable to the present dispute” and that the only Florida case cited by the City “did not analyze the Florida constitution’s right to privacy at all… and is inapplicable here.”

The City argued that the Vaccine Mandate “does not intrude upon the Plaintiffs’ private lives… citing various statutes relating to employers’ general rights and duties to ensure workplace safety for employees.” Brasington wrote, “The City did not cite any authority for the proposition that vaccination does not intrude upon a citizen’s private life.”

The City “renewed and expanded its argument from the Hearing that a ‘workplace policy’ cannot be subject to constitutional review,” but Brasington wrote, “This Court rejected that argument at the Hearing, and must reject it now. Florida’s Supreme Court has held that a city’s workplace policy can be reviewed for constitutionality under Florida’s right to privacy… The City’s other examples of workplace policies, such as a policy requiring wearing safety gear on the job, do not involve compelled medical treatments and are not relevant to the instant analysis.”

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The City argued that “Plaintiffs do not have ‘an absolute expectation of privacy’ in the context of the City’s employee vaccination policy,” but Brasington wrote, “The City misconstrues this Court’s ruling… This court merely ruled that City employees have a right to privacy in determining whether or not to obtain a medical procedure (vaccination), that the City’s vaccine mandate… infringes on that right to privacy, and that because the right to privacy is implicated, the City must demonstrate that its vaccination mandate is the least restrictive means to serve a compelling state interest. The City failed to present any evidence to this court and thus failed to demonstrate that the vaccine mandate is the least restrictive means to serve a compelling state interest.”

The City also argued that the “‘court is on notice of the CDC’s findings’ and thus, the City should not be required to justify the health measures taken for its employees,” but Brasington’s order said that “is an inaccurate statement of fact… As is common knowledge, the CDC has updated its findings and/or recommendations numerous times throughout the course of this pandemic… No specific CDC findings were provided to this court for the court to take notice of and the City simply referred this court to [a statement by the President in his Executive Order], ‘The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention… within the Department of Health and Human Services has determined that the best way to slow the spread of COVID-19 and to prevent infection by the Delta variant or other variants is to be vaccinated.'”

Summing up, Brasington wrote, “Courts decide legal disputes based on the evidence that comes before the court… It is not the role of the Court to speculate, infer, assume, or consider information beyond the evidence presented by the parties to a suit. To engage in this behavior, as the City appears to request this court do, would be improper… Therefore it is ORDERED: The City’s Motion for Reconsideration is DENIED.”

The City of Gainesville’s Motion to Reconsider can be read here.

The Order Denying the City’s Motion for Reconsideration can be read here.

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