LAFAYETTE, La. (KLFY) — A Lafayette Parish judge upheld the vaccine mandate for Ochsner Lafayette General employees.

The first of two hearings in a pair of lawsuits filed against local hospitals over the COVID-19 vaccine mandates was held today at the 15th Judicial District Courthouse in Lafayette.

Judge Thomas Frederick dismissed the entire case after hearing the arguments because he found it did not meet the “no cause for action” exception filed by Ochsner Lafayette General.

Judge Thomas opened the court hearing saying, “This is a legal issue. It’s not a medical issue. It’s not a science issue.”

With that context, a room full of healthcare workers represented by Jimmy Faircloth argued the Louisiana Constitution clearly gives them the right to refuse medical care, under Article 1 Section 5 which protects against unreasonable invasions of privacy.

But Ochsner Lafayette General’s attorney said, “There’s no coercion here. They have a choice. You either take the vaccine or go work someplace else.”

He also said these 48 people filing suit represent 0.009% of their 5,000 employees and they are putting patients and coworkers at risk.

“The idea that an employer in this state can make personal health care decisions about what goes into your body should scare everybody to death,” said Faircloth.

After three hours, the judge dismissed the entire case. He found it did not meet the “no cause for action” exception filed by Ochsner Lafayette General.

To overcome that exception, the 48 healthcare workers and their lawyer had to convince the judge
that being told to get the vaccine or be fired was irreparable injury. The judge decided they did not, and he also found the hospital system was a private business, not a public state actor, therefore, what they are requiring of their workforce is not unconstitutional.

“Everybody knew that this is the first step, and this is not an easy fight. This is a tough fight. You have to come out and you have beat the system to do this. So this is just one round,” said Faircloth. “There’s going to be suits filed all over the state. There are going to be other district judges that rule on these identical issues, and it is going to go through multiple courts of appeal before it gets to the Supreme Court.”

The attorney for Ochsner Lafayette General did not accept the invitation for an on-camera interview but said he “believed in his client’s case from the beginning and their priority remains their patients’ and healthcare workers’ well-being.”

Another court hearing will be held tomorrow for Our Lady of Lourdes vaccine mandate.