COVID-19 lawsuits against Tri-State hospitals dismissed voluntarily, spokesman says they will be refiled

Published: Aug. 30, 2021 at 4:40 PM EDT
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CINCINNATI (CINCINNATI ENQUIRER) - Lawsuits against the six Cincinnati-area hospital groups that sought to stop them from requiring employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19 have been voluntarily dismissed, court records show.

Our media partners at the Cincinnati Enquirer report that the dismissals were filed Sunday by attorneys representing the employees, records show. No reason was given, but court documents say the plaintiffs “intend to refile.”

Oral arguments had been scheduled Tuesday before federal judges in both Covington and Cincinnati.

The lawsuits were filed last week by the Deters Law Firm. Its spokesman, Eric Deters, told The Enquirer Monday that the firm has received “15,000 emails from Tristate hospital employees,” and the attorneys on the case need time to create formal affidavits “in support of the claims.”

He expects the lawsuits to be refiled soon after Labor Day. Deters has retired from practicing law and now is a spokesperson, and he said a team of attorneys is working on the cases.

The emails, Deters said, will show, in part, that “there is no Covid crisis in the Tristate, at all.” He said the hospital groups – UC Health, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, the Christ Hospital Health Network, Bon Secours Mercy Health, TriHealth, and St. Elizabeth Healthcare – “manipulate their occupancy rates.”

“The information contained in these affidavits and emails,” he said, “is going to prove that the hospitals colluded to work together, so these health care workers couldn’t find another job in the health care system.”

The emails, he added, “prove that these hospitals have acted in the most evil, corrupt way, to try to force half their health care workers to take a vaccine that they don’t want.”

Vaccine mandates and the Supreme Court

In court documents, attorneys for St. Elizabeth Healthcare said vaccine mandates were deemed lawful by the U.S. Supreme Court more than a century ago, and “have been upheld by every legal authority to consider them.”

Private employers, like hospital systems, attorneys for St. Elizabeth said, legally can require COVID-19 vaccines.

They said the lawsuit incorrectly stated the deadline, and employees have until Oct. 1 to be vaccinated or obtain a medical or religious exemption.

St. Elizabeth’s attorneys said the 109-page lawsuit includes numerous false allegations, calling it “a rambling manifesto setting forth various conspiracy theories.” Among them: the “Covid crisis was political to help elect Joe Biden.” The lawsuit also alleges that a former Pfizer employee called COVID-19 vaccines “bioweapons.”

Requiring the vaccines, attorneys for St. Elizabeth said, “is merely an effort to protect its patients, associates and visitors from COVID-19.”

They also said the lawsuit “made a mockery of the science behind COVID-19 and vaccines.” In response, they included a sworn statement from an epidemiologist who heads the infection prevention committee at a hospital associated with the University of Pennsylvania.

According to court documents, the epidemiologist, Dr. Onyeka Nwankwo, said the vaccines are “highly effective” in preventing disease and “particularly effective against severe disease, hospitalization and death.”

Deters said he has an email from an employee of Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center who said the hospital is now treating only four patients for COVID-19.

“They’re using this to scare the (expletive) out of the public,” he said. “It’s the most evil thing, ever.”

Risk of ‘long COVID’

Hospital spokesman Barrett Brunsman said he could not comment on the number of children hospitalized for COVID-19 because it could identify the children in their care.

Brunsman did say that since the beginning of the pandemic, “more than 350 children have gotten so sick with COVID-19 that they were hospitalized at Cincinnati Children’s.”

Brunsman said more children locally are testing positive for the disease, and there has been an increase this month.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, he said, more than 13,000 children tested by the hospital’s lab have tested positive for COVID-19.

“The concern is that with increasing COVID-positive children,” Brunsman said, “comes the risk of more kids with complications such as Multi-Inflammatory Syndrome in Children and ‘long COVID.’”

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