A judge who previously denied a preliminary injunction sought by a group of Los Angeles firefighters — who sued the city asking to be paid pending hearings about possible termination for refusing the coronavirus vaccine — says he is inclined now to dismiss the lawsuit altogether.
Saying the balance of harms weighed against granting their request, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Michael Linfield issued his preliminary injunction ruling Dec. 21, a day after hearing arguments in the lawsuit filed Sept. 17 by the nonprofit Firefighters4Freedom Foundation, which represents more than 500 members of the Los Angeles Fire Department.
The city on Jan. 18 filed a motion to dismiss the suit, with attorneys arguing in their court papers that it has been “well settled” under the U.S. Constitution for more than a century that compulsory vaccination is lawful.
“In fact, courts have consistently rejected challenges to COVID-19 vaccine mandates, such as the one at issue here,” the City Attorney’s Office wrote in its court papers.
In a tentative ruling issued Friday, Linfield concurred with the city’s arguments.
“This is another in a long line of cases that challenges vaccination mandates,” Linfield wrote. “No court has upheld such a challenge. This case is equally without merit.”
The judge is scheduled to hear arguments Tuesday before issuing a final ruling.
Firefighters4Freedom alleges that the city’s vaccination directive, among other things, violates their members’ constitutionally protected right to privacy.
Attorney Scott Street, on behalf of the firefighters, stated in his court papers opposing the dismissal motion that his clients are not challenging that ordinance on its face, but instead the city’s decision, made several months later, to unconstitutionally stop paying more than 100 city firefighters without a prior hearing.
But the judge wrote that the law does not entitle municipal firefighters to a hearing before an adverse employment action during an emergency. Rather, the law affords the firefighters “a framework to determine whether a post-deprivation adverse employment action complied with the employee’s due process rights,” the judge wrote.
The firefighters’ suit “does not challenge the city’s determination that it navigated an emergency; rather (Firefighters4Freedom) essentially pleads that even during an emergency, due process equates to notice and a hearing before any adverse employment actions take effect,” the judge wrote. “This is not the law.”