Nine OSP troopers, 5 from C.O., firefighters sue Gov. Brown to block vaccine mandate
Move comes 2 days after Bend OSP trooper is put on leave over posting video with similar stance
MADRAS, Ore. (KTVZ) – Nine Oregon State Police troopers – five from Central Oregon – and a group of state firefighters filed suit Friday against Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, challenging and seeking to block the vaccine mandate for state workers and an Oct. 18 deadline to get the shot or possibly be fired.
The lawsuit, filed in Jefferson County Circuit Court, also names as plaintiffs the Oregon Fraternal Order of Police and the Kingsley Firefighters Association at Kingsley Field in Klamath Falls.
Among the named OSP plaintiffs: Todd Burke, a Fish and Game Division trooper in Madras; Trooper Michael Hansen, stationed in Prineville; OSP Major Crimes Sgt. Darin LaDick, stationed in Bend; Trooper Mike Berland, also based in Bend, and Brian Glaser, an OSP trooper stationed in Prineville. The lawsuit notes that none of them have claimed any religious or medical exemptions to the state mandates.
The lawsuit asks a judge to uphold “their rights and responsibilities to make medical decisions for themselves under Oregon common law” and the state and U.S. constitutions. They are seeking a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction against enforcement of the governor’s order.
The state workers say they “want to exercise control over their own medical treatment and are being forced to choose between their rights, privileges and liberties as citizens on the one hand and their employment, careers and financial futures on the other.” They claim the order conflicts with the state Constitution’s “guarantee of free expression” and the U.S. Constitution’s “guarantee of equal protection, free exercise and due process.”
The lawsuit also claims Brown’s executive order was unconstitutional because “it introduces on the legislative power by mandating vaccines for certain citizens when the Legislature has expressly forbidden such a mandate.”
Asked for a response, the governor’s press secretary, Liz Merah, told NewsChannel 21, "Our office generally does not comment on matters of pending litigation."
However, last month, Charles Boyle, Brown’s deputy communications director, noted to NewsChannel 21 on a related matter that ORS 433.416, the statute which states a health care worker cannot be required to be immunized as a work condition, adds, "unless such immunization is otherwise required by federal or state law, rule or regulation."
Asked about that clause, Dan Thenell, the Portland attorney representing the plaintiffs, told NewsChannel 21 Friday, "The question is can a regulatory agency or the governor, (after the fact) adopt something that negates the statute. Was there an existing law, rule or regulation that existed at the time this statute was adopted?
"And I am not sure the Oregon Health Authority has jurisdiction over State Police and firefighters," Thenell added. "Additionally, if OHA has a rule purporting to do what Mr. Boyle says, I have not seen that rule."
The lawsuit’s filing comes two days after another OSP trooper stationed in Bend was placed on paid leave over an Instagram video he posted, saying he would not follow the governor’s vaccine mandate.