A lawsuit filed in July in Los Angeles on behalf of a group of parents sought to halt any plans to bring back an indoor mask mandate on school children, and claimed that the Los Angeles Department of Public Health was “using erroneous hospitalization metrics,” the Globe reported in July.
“On behalf of @LACountyParents, I filed a petition for writ of mandate and complaint against @lapublichealth, Ferrer and Davis. We cannot live like this anymore. If she proceeds with the new mask mandate on Friday, we will immediately seek a TRO,” attorney Julie Hamill announced on Twitter.
Additionally, the lawsuit challenged the loss of freedom of speech in California under the California Constitution when parents commenting on the Los Angeles Department of Public Health social media pages were locked out by the county.
The court ruled initially that since the county was following the CDC’s guidelines on masking and lockdowns, the mandates and policies were “rational” and could remain.
However, the freedom of speech issue went forward.
Three years after the nationwide school shutdowns that locked millions of American children out of school, it turns out the Coronavirus was not nearly as destructive as the teachers unions. From @AppletoZucchini & me (but mostly Natalya!) https://t.co/DwbHmnIuVW
— Julie Hamill (@hamill_law) March 22, 2023
Attorney Hamill noted in her lawsuit:
“…after Parents filed this Petition, LACDPH began blocking all public comment on its social media accounts to prevent ‘harassment’ and ‘bullying.’ On August 21, 2022, it announced that those accounts are now for informational purposes only and open to comment only during live ‘town hall’ events. Only those tagged in the posts may comment, which is not a viewpoint neutral restriction.”
Attorney Hamill pursued the freedom of speech issue and offered settlement.
In the lawsuit, Hamill said:
The Mandate violates substantive due process because it is clearly arbitrary and unreasonable and has no substantial relation to the public health, safety, morals, or general welfare.
Parents seeks (1) a writ of mandate prohibiting LACDPH from implementing or enforcing all arbitrary and capricious COVID health orders for masking children; (2) a temporary stay of enforcement of the Mandate pending judgment in this case; (3) declaratory judgment that COVID health orders treating lower-risk children far more harshly than adults denies children in the County equal protection of the law under the California Constitution; (4) declaratory judgment that blocking public comment on LACDPH’s social media pages violates Parents members’ constitutional right to free speech; (5) an injunction mandating the reopening of LACDPH posts for public comment; (6) declaratory judgment that LACDPH’s COVID health orders deprive Parents members of substantive due process; (7) an injunction prohibiting implementation and enforcement of COVID health orders that deny substantive due process; (8) injunctive relief directing LACDPH to not implement or enforce COVID health orders against children until it uses accurate hospitalization data to calculate community risk levels, accounts for false positives, distinguishes between COVID caused deaths and COVID deaths incidental to other causes, uses unbiased random controlled studies showing a statistically significant decrease in COVID transmission due to masking, balances benefits of masking against harms, and considers evidence of low hospitalization and mortality and mild severity of COVID; (9) damages according to proof; and (10) attorney’s fees and costs.
During the Case Management Conference in this matter held on March 27, 2023, Hamill said the parties discussed possible settlement of the case. She sent a letter to the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors and their attorneys, and restates the offer made by the Alliance of Los Angeles County Parents (“Alliance”) on the record in her March 27th letter (below):
The Alliance’s offer is to enter into a settlement agreement encompassing the following:
- Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (“DPH”) will reopen public comments and replies on all of its social media accounts, including Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. DPH will refrain from blocking, hiding, and restricting comments from the public.
- The Alliance will dismiss the remaining causes of action and forego appeal of the first, second, and fourth causes of action.
- The County will pay to counsel for Alliance $10,000, representing deeply discounted attorneys’ fees and costs of litigating this matter to date.
Hamill told the Globe that the Judge called her offer a “sweetheart deal” on the record in court, and was not happy that the county failed to respond to her previous offers that did not contain any monetary demands.
In her letter, she said, “If this matter proceeds without resolution, the Alliance intends to raise issues on appeal that have sweeping impact on public health officer discretion, the proper level of judicial scrutiny applied to public agencies, and the rights of citizens in California.”
Attorney Hamill’s full letter is below. Read the entire letter for her excellent argument on behalf of parents and children, and freedom of speech in California.Ltr to County 3.27.23
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