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Fordham Facing Potential Lawsuits for One of Strictest Vaccine Mandates in Nation

AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell

Vaccine mandates are back in the news, for yet more lawsuits. This one is potentially coming for Fordham University, which has campuses throughout New York City and Westchester, after the school has imposed one of the strictest COVID-19 vaccine mandates in the country.

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On Tuesday, a mandate went into place at the university that requires staff, students, and even visitors to have received the new booster shot, for four shots total. As The New York Post reported that same day, students at the Fordham Law School are planning on filing a lawsuit in the Bronx Supreme Court, according to their attorney James Mermigis. 

Coverage from the Fordham Observer also had details from Mermigis, including how Fordham did not respond to inquiries:

Fordham Parents Together, a new organization that protested the bivalent booster mandate on Oct. 14, the day of Tetlow’s inauguration, submitted a letter to the university voicing their opposition to the mandate on Oct. 7. According to James Mermigis, senior owner and partner of the Mermigis Law Group, Fordham Parents Together has not received a response from the university as of Oct. 20. 

Mermigis Law Group, a law firm on Long Island, is threatening to file legal action against Fordham following its bivalent booster mandate, according to the Bronx Times. Mermigis co-authored a letter addressing Tetlow in which he characterized Fordham’s vaccine policy as “coercive” and cited that it is unlawful for the university to mandate the booster since it is currently being distributed under emergency use authorization.  

Mermigis and his co-author wrote that they “demand a reply to this letter by close of business day on Monday, October 24,” and stated that they are “preparing to explore all legal options available to protect Fordham students and employees from discrimination or adverse actions based on their decisions regarding whether or not to inject the most recent booster into their bodies.” 

The bivalent booster mandate was announced during the fall 2022 semester, which Mermigis described as “a breach of implied contract” to the Bronx Times, since students had already paid their tuition. He encouraged Tetlow to give the letter “serious consideration” in order to otherwise “avoid litigation.”

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Fordham is just one of 20 college campuses in the country, out of thousands, that requires this extra dose. Adding even more chaos and confusion is the timing of when the mandate was imposed.

From The New York Post:

Families reported that the line to get boosted on campus Monday was close to two hours long — smack in the middle of midterms season, and ran out of the Pfizer booster.

“I think to have a mandate put in place in the middle of a semester is terrible,” said mom Robyn Bailey, whose daughter, a freshman on the Bronx campus, got the fourth jab the day before the mandate went into effect.

“She feels so much stress and anxiety,” Bailey said about her daughter. “She’s like, I can’t keep holding off — I can’t be stuck not going to class. This was extremely upsetting to her.”

Another parent of a freshman, David Betten, said his son will not be getting the next dose — and there is “no plan B at the moment” if the school cracks down on noncompliance.

“They say they want to protect those at the school, but unfortunately we’ve seen these shots don’t stop transmission or from getting COVID. So I don’t understand why there isn’t a choice,” said Betten.

The Fordham Ram has more about the lawsuit:

Mermingis told the Bronx Times that the mandate violates students’ rights, especially since it came in the middle of the semester.

“They announce this after everyone has began their semester, after everyone has paid their tuition. That’s a breach of an implied contract,” said Mermigis to the Bronx Times.

Mermigis did not respond to the Ram’s interview request.

Mermigis is working with a group of Fordham parents, students, faculty and staff called “Fordham Together.” The group has advocated for the mandate’s repeal since its announcement on Sept. 26. They drafted a letter to Tetlow on Oct. 7, outlining the issues they have with the mandate. Their letter states why they believe students should not be mandated to receive a booster shot and that Fordham is “one of the only universities requiring it.” Fordham is one of over 50 universities requiring the bivalent booster.

According to Mermigis’ letter, Fordham Together never received a response from the university.

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The student newspaper also included a statement from Fordham Together, which said their "next step will depend on the university’s response."

Spoksesperson Bob Howe justified the mandate as being in line with the school's Jesuit mission of doing for others in a statement for The New York Post. "The vaccine isn’t just about the needs of individuals, but about the community," he claimed. "Being fully vaccinated and boosted helps protect students, faculty and staff — some of whom are more vulnerable to COVID-19 because of age or their individual medical histories."

Howe also claimed to suspect that other institutions will soon impose similarly draconian measure. "We strongly suspect other institutions will be revisiting their vaccination policies this fall, if they have not done so already," he said. 

As Matt highlighted in September, Paul Offit has urged caution about the booster, which includes telling young, heathy Americans not to get it because "there is not clear evidence of benefit." 

Offit has a litany of credentials, according to TheBlaze, including being the Director of the Vaccine Education Center at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), Professor of Pediatrics at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, a member of National Institutes of Health (NIH) working group on vaccines, and a member of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee (VRBPAC). He was also a member of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices.

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Vaccine mandates are failing in the courts, yet Democrats and bureaucrats at institutions still insist on them. Last month, as Katie covered, the New York Supreme Court ordered that government workers fired for refusing the vaccine were to be reinstated with back pay. "Being vaccinated does not prevent an individual from contracting or transmitting Covid-19. As of the day of this Decision, CDC guidelines regarding quarantine and isolation are the same for vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals," the ruling read. 

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