Anti-vaccine activists try to use liability insurance policies for easy money

liability insurance

This article about how anti-vaccine activists try to use liability insurance policies to make money and target people was written by Dorit Rubinstein Reiss, Professor of Law at the University of California Hastings College of the Law (San Francisco, CA), who is a frequent contributor to this and many other blogs, providing in-depth, and intellectually stimulating, articles about vaccines, medical issues, social policy, and the law.

Professor Reiss writes extensively in law journals about the social and legal policies of vaccination. Additionally, Reiss is also a member of the Parent Advisory Board of Voices for Vaccines, a parent-led organization that supports and advocates for on-time vaccination and the reduction of vaccine-preventable diseases. She is also a member of the Vaccines Working Group on Ethics and Policy.

An anti-vaccine activist tried to get my liability insurance policy to target me using the latest fake paper-terrorism effort that resulted from the marriage between anti-vaccine activists and sovereign citizens. Finding out I don’t have one, he, on learning my school has a liability insurance policy, decided that provides him with a double opportunity: revenge (for imaginary harms) and windfall. The problem is that it does not work like that. Liability insurance policies don’t really provide anti-vaccine sovereign citizens to make a windfall by attacking pro-vaccine advocates.

This kind of behavior, however, lends support to calls to put in place laws to combat paper terrorism, the sovereign citizen tactic of filing baseless legal claims to harass and distract, like the laws put in place to combat the related sovereign citizens’ practice of filing liens to harass people.    

My hope with this post is to give people an introduction to some tactics sovereign citizens use to target people and provide them with an explanation of why these tactics are invalid. Given the growing merger between anti-vaccine activists and sovereign citizens, I think this could be useful. 

This post proceeds in four parts. In the first part, I will provide a bit of background on my experience with the current harasser, self-appointed Pastor Ricardo Beas, which I think is important to understand his latest effort. Then, I will describe paper terrorism and the recently combined anti-public-health and sovereign citizen effort to use bonds. Finally, I will describe Mr. Beas’ latest foible and why it is unfounded. Finally, I will offer some guidance to other people targeted. 

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Judge vacates CDC mask mandate in a problematic decision

CDC mask mandate

This article about a judge’s problematic decision regarding the CDC mask mandate was written by Dorit Rubinstein Reiss, Professor of Law at the University of California Hastings College of the Law (San Francisco, CA), who is a frequent contributor to this and many other blogs, providing in-depth, and intellectually stimulating, articles about vaccines, medical issues, social policy, and the law.

Professor Reiss writes extensively in law journals about the social and legal policies of vaccination. Additionally, Reiss is also a member of the Parent Advisory Board of Voices for Vaccines, a parent-led organization that supports and advocates for on-time vaccination and the reduction of vaccine-preventable diseases. She is also a member of the Vaccines Working Group on Ethics and Policy.

On April 18, 2022, Kathryn Kimball Mizelle, a federal district judge in Florida, struck down the CDC mask mandate on public transportation. The analysis was highly problematic since it second-guessed the agency’s judgment on public health, ignored existing precedent and the natural meaning of the statute interpreted, and implied that COVID-19 is not a serious issue, discounting hundreds of thousands of deaths and millions of cases of serious illness. It also analyzed the procedural framework in a way, not in line with the usual operation of administrative law. 

It is a strong example of judicial aggressive second-guessing of the political branches’ choices. And doing so in a way that will, literally, kill and harm people – and goes again the majority preferences. In any way, shape, and form it is a failure to fill the judicial role. 

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COVID-19 fraud and scams — US Department of Justice cracks down

crime scene do not cross signage

For something completely different and entirely predictable, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) has announced crackdowns on COVID-19 fraud and scam artists. You probably remember that various anti-vaccine scammers have been profiting from the COVID-19 pandemic, so this may not be a big surprise. But it’s fun to read.

I’m just going to post the various cases the DOJ has been pursuing against COVID-19 fraud, just for a little comedy relief. Actually, it’s not that funny, some of these people stole millions of dollars pushing their fraud.

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California revokes Mary Kelly Sutton medical license for fake vaccine exemptions

Mary Kelly Sutton

On 8 December 2021, the Medical Board of California provisionally revoked the medical license of Dr. Mary Kelly Sutton for issuing medical exemptions that “did not comply with the vaccine guidelines set forth by the ACIP (Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices) and AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics).

Apparently, the attempted intimidation by America’s Frontline Doctors (neither frontline nor doctors) went nowhere, as the Medical Board of California will continue to do its job in protecting California’s children from doctors who push fake vaccine exemptions.

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Vaccine consent for minors — Federal judge puts DC law on hold

vaccine consent

This article about a DC law that allowed vaccine consent for minors was written by Dorit Rubinstein Reiss, Professor of Law at the University of California Hastings College of the Law (San Francisco, CA), who is a frequent contributor to this and many other blogs, providing in-depth, and intellectually stimulating, articles about vaccines, medical issues, social policy, and the law.

Professor Reiss writes extensively in law journals about the social and legal policies of vaccination. Additionally, Reiss is also a member of the Parent Advisory Board of Voices for Vaccines, a parent-led organization that supports and advocates for on-time vaccination and the reduction of vaccine-preventable diseases. She is also a member of the Vaccines Working Group on Ethics and Policy.

On March 18, 2022, a federal district judge — Judge Trevor N. McFadden — issued a preliminary injunction, that is, an order putting on hold DC’s law allowing minors to consent to a vaccine. The judge did it based on a flawed reading of the federal law the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act (NCVIA), and although the federal law the judge was interpreted was passed at a time when multiple states allowed minors to consent to medical treatments, including vaccines, and the law nowhere indicated that it intended to deny states the power to allow minors to do that.

In doing so, the judge helped anti-vaccine activists reduce the choices available to teens in DC, and barred teens from being able to protect themselves from disease, putting them at risk with no real benefit (except to anti-vaccine activists who could use the decision to claim a win, and who quickly turned it to increase fundraising).

If the decision is not overturned on appeal and other judges follow this very flawed reasoning, other minor consent laws – many of them longstanding – could be put at risk. 

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Court dismisses Gardasil harms claims against Merck

man in black holding phone

This article about a court dismissing Gardasil harms claims against Merck was written by Dorit Rubinstein Reiss, Professor of Law at the University of California Hastings College of the Law (San Francisco, CA), who is a frequent contributor to this and many other blogs, providing in-depth, and intellectually stimulating, articles about vaccines, medical issues, social policy, and the law.

Professor Reiss writes extensively in law journals about the social and legal policies of vaccination. Additionally, Reiss is also a member of the Parent Advisory Board of Voices for Vaccines, a parent-led organization that supports and advocates for on-time vaccination and the reduction of vaccine-preventable disease. She is also a member of the Vaccines Working Group on Ethics and Policy.

On March 15, 2022, a federal judge in Connecticut dismissed a tort claim brought against Merck by a young woman, Korrine Herlth, who alleged that the Gardasil vaccine caused her harm, including Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (“POTS”) and chronic fatigue syndrome (“CFS”).

The claim was dismissed on the grounds that federal law preempted most of the torts claims – they could not be brought because the Food, Drugs and Cosmetics Act said that federal law ruled these issues, not state torts law – and the others were dismissed because the plaintiffs’ claims were too general and did not provide sufficient grounds. The claims were dismissed without prejudice, so if the plaintiff – through her lawyers – can correct the problems the court identified, she can refile some of them. 

The case never reached the causation problems in the claim – causation problems that derive from the fact that multiple large studies found no link between HPV vaccines and the alleged harms. Nor did it actually get to examine the validity of the specific claims, but many of them draw directly from anti-vaccines claims that are highly problematic.

It is likely fair to say that in this case – and the other similar claims the law firm bringing the case, Baum, Hedlund, Aristel & Goldman is bringing alleging harms from Gardasil – the law firm is serving the anti-vaccine movement more than the individual plaintiffs, even if the law firm itself is not, as a whole, anti-vaccine. 

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Jury rejects malpractice claim that a vaccine caused child’s autism

malpractice vaccine

This article about a Tennesse jury rejecting a malpractice claim that a physician who gave a vaccine caused autism was written by Dorit Rubinstein Reiss, Professor of Law at the University of California Hastings College of the Law (San Francisco, CA), who is a frequent contributor to this and many other blogs, providing in-depth, and intellectually stimulating, articles about vaccines, medical issues, social policy, and the law.

Professor Reiss writes extensively in law journals about the social and legal policies of vaccination. Additionally, Reiss is also a member of the Parent Advisory Board of Voices for Vaccines, a parent-led organization that supports and advocates for on-time vaccination and the reduction of vaccine-preventable disease. She is also a member of the Vaccines Working Group on Ethics and Policy.

On February 18, 2022, a jury in Tennessee rejected a malpractice case filed by Rolf Hazlehurst for his son Yates, in which he claimed that the child’s doctors, by giving him a vaccine, caused the child’s autism. The case was rejected because the doctors did not violate the standard of care, did not commit malpractice in giving the child a vaccine. The case never got to assessing the causation question – did the vaccines cause Yates’ autism – but the chances of prevailing on that were also low. 

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Dumb anti-vaccine bill proposed by Rep. Louie Gohmert in the US House

Louie Gohmert

I have been ignoring this, but I just had to write about the idiotic anti-vaccine legislation that right-wing nutjob Representative Louie Gohmert has introduced to the US House of Representatives on 2 November 2021. It’s like a treasure trove of anti-vaccine tropes and myths.

This anti-vaccine bill has almost a 0% chance of being passed in the current House, but with the Democrats running into a stiff headwind of typical midterm lack of support, crackpot Republicans will probably be running the House of Representatives in 2023, which means this dumb bill might get voted out of the House.

Let’s take a look at the bill, so you can laugh even more about Louie Gohmert.

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No personal liability for officials who impose COVID public health restrictions in California schools

personal liability

This article about personal liability for officials who impose public health mandates in schools was written by Dorit Rubinstein Reiss, Professor of Law at the University of California Hastings College of the Law (San Francisco, CA), who is a frequent contributor to this and many other blogs, providing in-depth, and intellectually stimulating, articles about vaccines, medical issues, social policy, and the law.

Professor Reiss writes extensively in law journals about the social and legal policies of vaccination. Additionally, Reiss is also a member of the Parent Advisory Board of Voices for Vaccines, a parent-led organization that supports and advocates for on-time vaccination and the reduction of vaccine-preventable disease. She is also a member of the Vaccines Working Group on Ethics and Policy.

I was asked to address a piece of misinformation that has, apparently, taken off in anti-vaccine circles. Starting from the end — no, activists (or parents) cannot hold school boards and superintendents personally liable for imposing COVID-19 restrictions. No, there is no surety bond that would freeze school funds. The threat to use a surety bond in this context is not a valid legal threat.

If school boards and superintendents receive such threats, they should realize this is, in fact, pseudo-law used by science deniers to try and intimidate, just as sovereign citizens use similar tactics to attack traffic courts, and the officials’ job is not to give in.

The claim I am addressing appears to be a national effort, with a California-specific branch. In this post, I will try to explain why this personal liability does not hold generally, but also give specific points for California. 

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Supreme Court rulings on Biden administration vaccine mandates — explanation

Biden administration vaccine mandates

This article about recent US Supreme Court rulings on the Biden administration’s proposed vaccine mandates was written by Dorit Rubinstein Reiss, Professor of Law at the University of California Hastings College of the Law (San Francisco, CA), who is a frequent contributor to this and many other blogs, providing in-depth, and intellectually stimulating, articles about vaccines, medical issues, social policy, and the law.

Professor Reiss writes extensively in law journals about the social and legal policies of vaccination. Additionally, Reiss is also a member of the Parent Advisory Board of Voices for Vaccines, a parent-led organization that supports and advocates for on-time vaccination and the reduction of vaccine-preventable disease. She is also a member of the Vaccines Working Group on Ethics and Policy.

On January 13, 2022, the US Supreme Court, in two different decisions, struck down the Biden administration’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)’s Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) requiring employers to create a plan that requires employees to vaccinate or test and mask in the workplace and upheld a rule by the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare (CMS) requiring 15 different types of healthcare providers to vaccine mandates for their employees (subject to required medical and religious accommodations).

This post explains and analyzes both decisions regarding the Biden administration’s proposed vaccine mandates.

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