The Network for Public Health Law monitors key court cases and relevant judicial trends in public health. The Network’s monthly reporter, Judicial Trends in Public Health (JTPH), highlights select published cases from the prior 3 months in public health law and policy. These cases are organized below by name, issuing court, date of issuance, along with a brief synopsis, link to the case abstract, and hyperlink to the full decisions (when publicly available). For more information, including a topic digest of these and other cases, see below. Questions, comments, thoughts? Contact the Network for more information.
In re S.P. (California Court of Appeals, 2nd Appellate District, District 6, August 6, 2020) – A California appellate court ruled that a juvenile court has authority to order vaccinations. Read the abstract here.
In re National Prescription Opiate Litigation (U.S. Court of Appeals, 6th Circuit, September 24, 2020) – The appellate court rejected a lower court’s decision to certify a “negotiation class” representing cities, towns, and counties that would negotiate and vote on whether to accept settlements with drug manufacturers, distributors, and pharmacies. Read the abstract here.
Sierra Club v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. Court of Appeals, 3rd Circuit, August 27, 2020) – The court found that EPA acted in an arbitrary and capricious manner when approving Pennsylvania’s ozone compliance plan principally because the plan was not based on any supporting science and lacked a reporting requirement. Read the abstract here.
County of Butler v. Wolf (U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania, September 14, 2020) – The U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania ruled that several provisions contained in executive orders issued by Pennsylvania Governor Wolf and Secretary of Health Levine to address the COVID-19 pandemic were unconstitutional. Read the abstract here.
Schmitt v. Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of Washington (U.S. Court of Appeals, 9th Circuit, July 14, 2020) – The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals found Kaiser Health Plan did not violate the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) discrimination provisions by failing to provide Plaintiffs with proper hearing loss treatment because the Plan did not categorically exclude coverage of hearing loss treatment. Read the abstract here.
Colvin v. Inslee (Supreme Court of Washington, July 23, 2020) – Petitioners sued the Washington State Department of Corrections seeking a writ of mandamus to direct Governor Inslee and Secretary Sinclair to immediately release about 13,000 at-risk inmates amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Read the abstract here.
Watson v. Oppenheim (Mississippi Supreme Court, September 18, 2020) – The Mississippi Supreme Court found that voters with pre-existing conditions putting them at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19 do not have a disability that automatically qualifies them to vote absentee. Read the abstract here.
Andrews v. Ortiz (Texas Court of Appeals, 7th District, September 1, 2020) – A Texas appellate court declined to dismiss a lawsuit filed by the grandmother of a deceased 10-year-old girl against Lubbock County’s Chief Medical Examiner, Sam Andrews. Read the abstract here.
Grimm v. Gloucester County School Board (U.S. Court of Appeals, 4th Circuit, August 26, 2020) – The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit ruled that the Gloucester County School Board policy prohibiting transgender students from using the restroom consistent with their gender identity is sex-based discrimination prohibited by Title XI, a federal civil rights law prohibiting discrimination based on sex. Read the abstract here.
Washington League for Increased Transparency and Ethics (WASHLITE) v. Fox News (Superior Court of Washington County of King, May 27, 2020) – WASHLITE sued Fox News and others alleging intentional infliction of emotional distress and violations of the Washington Consumer Protection Act. The complaint states that Fox News “knowingly disseminated false, erroneous, and incomplete information” about COVID-19 that the public reasonably relied on. Read the abstract here.
TOPICS: These and other cases are organized on the Network website under the topics below (adapted from chapter titles in Public Health Law in a Nutshell (3rd Edition) by James G. Hodge, Jr., Director, Network for Public Health Law—Western Region). Select a topic below to view all cases under that topic.
JTPH is a collaboration of the Network’s Western and Eastern Region Offices. Western Region contributors include: James G. Hodge, Jr., JD, LLM, Leila Barraza, JD, MPH, Emily Carey, and Claudia Reeves. Eastern Region contributors include Kathi Hoke, JD, Kerri McGowan Lowrey, JD, MPH, Mathew R. Swinburne, JD, Brooke Torton, JD, and Megan Griest, MPP.
Legal information or guidance provided in this transmission or website does not constitute legal advice or representation. For legal advice, please consult specific legal counsel in your state.