LANDRY: A Win for Students During a Pandemic

A federal judge has granted a temporary restraining order preventing Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine (VCOM) in Monroe from requiring students get vaccinated as a condition for enrollment.

The medical college, better known as VCOM, is restrained from mandating the three students get vaccinated as a condition for their enrollment as well as retaliating against the students for their lawsuit filing.

The ruling comes after the school had already agreed to allow the students to enroll without being vaccinated under a religious exemption. The three had sought the restraining order before that decision by VCOM was made.

VCOM students Rachel Lynn Magliulo, Matthew Shea Willis and Kirsten Willis Hall filed a lawsuit against the college at the beginning of August because they said they were denied a religious exemption from the college’s vaccine mandate. Despite now having approved vaccine exemptions, they claim the conditions surrounding their exemptions prevent them from fully partaking in their education.

This is a case on which my office advised the local legal counsel and on which we filed a legal brief in support.

As I have said all along, even during a pandemic, we must protect the rights of our citizens. I’m pleased with the court’s decision and glad these students can focus on what’s important: their education.

Solicitor General Liz Murrill, on behalf of my office, worked with the plaintiff students and their attorney in achieving this favorable outcome.
In comments to the press, Liz said, “This is a win for the people of Louisiana who have sincerely held religious convictions and other reservations about these vaccines. The bottom line is that the law and constitution still apply. We are grateful to Judge Doughty for protecting their rights and upholding the rule of law, and we will continue to work toward an acceptable resolution.”

“We’re very happy with the decision,” said Michael DuBos – the attorney representing the VCOM students. “We feel it is important to respect individual rights, especially in a time of crisis. If not, it sets a dangerous precedent.”

As Louisiana law does not allow me, or my office, to act as the private attorney for individuals, we were glad to work with their local attorney, Mr. DuBos, in achieving this win.

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