Court rules against unvaccinated students at Louisiana medical school

Previous settlement will remain in effect

By: - January 31, 2022 5:41 pm
Special redistricting session appears on after 5th Circuit removes stay

Courtroom gavel. (Getty Images)

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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Wesley Muller
Wesley Muller

Wes Muller traces his journalism roots back to 1997 when, at age 13, he built and launched a hyper-local news website for his New Orleans neighborhood. In the years since then, he has freelanced for the Times-Picayune in New Orleans and worked on staff at the Sun Herald in Biloxi, WAFB-9News CBS in Baton Rouge, and the Enterprise-Journal in McComb, Mississippi. He also taught English as an adjunct instructor at Baton Rouge Community College. Among his recognitions are McClatchy's National President's Award, the Associated Press Freedom of Information Award, and the Daniel M. Phillips Freedom of Information Award from the Mississippi Press Association. Muller is an alumnus of Jesuit High School and the University of New Orleans and is a veteran U.S. Army paratrooper. He lives in Louisiana with his wife and two sons.

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