BGSU sued over vaccine mandate

Aspen Strauss and Aspen Strauss

Three university students and one faculty member filed a civil lawsuit in Wood County Common Pleas Court against BGSU for its vaccine mandate.

The Akron-based law firm, Mendenhall Law Group, has challenged not only BGSU for the mandate, but has also filed lawsuits on behalf of students and faculty members at Ohio University and Miami University.

On Nov. 20, 2021, BGSU set up preparations for the spring semester by requiring students, faculty and staff to provide proof of the COVID-19 vaccination or receive an approved exemption. Because of the controversy over the safety of vaccines and their effectiveness, Carolyn Dailey, Gabrielle Downard and Amy Vorst, students at BGSU and Andrea Hoerig, a teaching professor in the college of education and human development, are now challenging the university.

 Therefore, the defendants’ request judgment for: 

  1. A declaration that the mandate is void to the extent that it violates Ohio constitutional and statutory law 

  2. Preliminary and permanent injunctive relief prohibiting defendants, their officers, agents, employees, successors and attorney, and all those in active concern or participation with them, from enforcing the mandate and discriminating against plaintiffs in violation of plaintiff’s statutory and constitutional rights 

This suit contends that the mandate set in place violates not only the state law, but also the Ohio Constitution and Ohio criminal statutes.

According to the Sentinel-Tribune, the Ohio Revised Code states, “Public school or state institution of higher education shall not require an individual to receive a vaccine for which the United States Food and Drug Administration has not granted full approval; and discriminate against an individual who has not received a vaccine by requiring the individual to engage in or refrain from engaging in activities or precautions that differ from the activities or precautions of an individual who has received such vaccine.”

The lawsuit states that the rights of students and faculty to refuse medical treatment are violated by the school’s mandate. Although BGSU offers exemptions to the vaccine requirements, there are still rules set that require both masks in certain settings and regular testing for unvaccinated individuals. 

“The FDA hasn’t given full approval for any of the coronavirus vaccines – which make the vaccine mandate at BGSU illegal,” Warren Mendenhall, of the Mendenhall Law Group, said.

On Aug. 23, 2021, the U.S Food and Drug Administration approved the first COVID-19 vaccine, best known as the Pfizer-BioNTech, which is now marketed as Comirnaty. The only COVID-19 vaccines that are currently available to be taken are Johnson and Johnson, Moderna and Pfizer, which have been authorized for emergency use and have not been fully approved by the FDA. On information and belief, Comirnaty, the only COVID-19 vaccine approved by the FDA, is not currently available in Ohio. 

The law firm has stated that these vaccines don’t present safety or effectiveness, which causes a large concern. They also claim that the COVID-19 vaccine is not medically appropriate for plaintiffs because the risk outweighs the benefits. They state that; “those who have recovered from COVID-19 have natural immunity which provides equivalent or greater protection than that generated by the COVID-19 mRNA vaccines which are likely to be long lasting. There is also evidence that those who’ve recovered from COVID-19 are then vaccinated have a heightened risk of adverse effects.” 

BGSU spokesperson Alex Solis has issued the following statement: “As the University has done since the onset of this global pandemic, we continue to implement public health measures to manage COVID-19. Recognizing the effectiveness of vaccines, BGSU offered a balanced vaccination and exemption program for all students, faculty and staff. The University’s goal remains to do its part to ensure the health and safety of our community, and BGSU has no further comment regarding this litigation at this time.”