Three students who sued a Monroe medical school over its coronavirus vaccine mandate lost their motion to hold the college in contempt. The ruling, issued Friday, means a settlement from October will remain in place.
Rachel Lynn Magliulo, Matthew Shea Willis and Kirsten Willis Hall initially sued the Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine (VCOM) in Monroe in August because they did not want to get vaccinated against COVID-19 in accordance with the medical school’s policy. They alleged VCOM discriminated against them, took other actions that humiliated them in front of their classmates and restricted them from attending certain classes.
VCOM is a private college that leases space on the campus of the University of Louisiana at Monroe.
In October, the students reached a non-monetary settlement with VCOM but asked to reopen the case less than a month later, claiming the school instituted new practices they considered discriminatory such as requiring unvaccinated people to wear face masks indoors.
The medical school had updated its COVID-19 protocols, which differed between vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals but followed the guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.
U.S. District Judge Terry Doughty on Friday denied the students’ motion for contempt and their motion to enforce the consent judgment, ruling that VCOM’s updated policies don’t restrict the students from doing the same things that unvaccinated students can do.
Doughty wrote that the updated restrictions still allow the students to be unvaccinated, attend classes and complete their academic work. He also pointed out that the consent decree provided that the plaintiffs would be subject to “reasonable safety measures” as promulgated by the CDC for unvaccinated people and institutions of higher education.
Osteopathy is a field of medicine that emphasizes a whole-person approach to treatment and tends to focus more on physical therapies for the body than drugs or invasive treatments. Graduates from an osteopathic medical school receive a D.O. degree rather than the traditional M.D. carried by most physicians but can still prescribe medicines and perform surgeries.
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