Two undergraduate students at Loyola Marymount University (LMU) have sued the Los Angeles-based Catholic university in federal court, challenging its mandatory policy that requires students to receive a COVID-19 shot or follow a list of requirements in order to be allowed to return to campus.
A motion for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction is expected to be filed next. Students are represented by attorneys from Tyler & Bursch, LLP, the Law Offices of Nicole C. Pearson, Children’s Health Defense – California Chapter, and Advocates for Faith & Freedom.
“The health and safety of our community members continues to guide our return to campus priorities and protocols," LMU said. "On April 26, 2021, the university announced that all students must be fully vaccinated for COVID-19 this fall. To protect the health and safety of our community, we are now asking that all faculty and staff be fully vaccinated prior to returning to campus this fall. We understand that some faculty and staff will choose not to vaccinate for medical, religious, or other reasons. We also understand that some may choose not to disclose their vaccination status.
“Those who are not fully vaccinated or who do not disclose their vaccination status by registering in Vax LMU, will be subject to additional requirements,” which include submitting to be regularly tested, wearing masks indefinitely and maintaining social distancing requirements.
The policy allowing for some exemptions are limited in scope, conditional and discriminatory, the students argue in their lawsuit, filed in the Central District of California. For example, “vaccine-exempted students would be required to live in separate dorms, wear face coverings, social distance, submit to surveillance testing, while those who got the shots would be free to move around campus without any conditions or requirements."
The underlying premise, which is not backed by science, the complaint argues, is that those who do not receive the shots pose a greater risk of transmitting the coronavirus than those who get them, even if the exempted are healthy and do not have the virus.
“There is, again, no defensible evidence to support this position,” the students argue.
There are no similar conditions tied to any other exemption granted by the university for any other vaccine that it mandates for attendance, the complaint states.
The complaint also says that the school’s policy requires those who receive exemptions assume all risk for any COVID-related cases or injuries that develop on campus, even though asymptomatic transmission is not supported by the weight of the scientific evidence.
“There is simply no rational basis in science, medicine or law for LMU to defend its policy,” Alix Mayer, Children’s Health Defense-CA Board president, said in a statement. “Without any valid reason, this school is discriminating against healthy students who pose no risk to anyone."
Robert Tyler, partner at Tyler & Bursch and president of Advocates for Faith & Freedom, added, “These two students are not alone. There are many other students being harmed by LMU’s discriminatory policy, but they are afraid to have a light shined on them because they do not want to suffer even greater retaliation by the University. No student should be placed in this situation when all they want to do is get an education and experience the same rights of passage as their peers.”
LMU said the conditions were adopted at the behest of, and in coordination with, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.
The school reopened its Westchester campus on July 26 and opens its LLS campus on Aug 2.