February 10, 2016
This week law students working with Yale’s Legal Department plan to file a class action lawsuit in Federal District court against Governor Malloy of Connecticut and the state’s present and former health commissioners on behalf of residents who are were affected by the State’s Ebola quantitative policies, which affected two Yale Graduate students.
The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages for some of the plaintiffs who were ordered by the State to remain inside their residence for up to 21 days in the fall of 2014. Police officers were stationed outside their residence to reinforce the policy.
This legal complaint now challenges the decision and procedures that were placed by Gov Malloy to prevent the spread of the Ebola virus in the Autumn of 2014. The complaint has also asked the court to bar state officials from detaining and/or quarantining any future traveler to West African Countries affected by Ebola, arguing that it is not necessary and there are other less forceful ways to protect the public. Just last week, a spokesperson for Connecticut’s Public Health department said that they were no longer monitoring travels from West Africa and in fact had started to follow guidelines established by the CDC. The state has acknowledged that they did quarantine nine people in Oct 2014, none of whom were symptomatic and none developed the Ebola infection.
In light of the recent outbreak of the Zika virus, the law students have argued that Connecticut State officials should not impose quarantine on asymptomatic individuals as it is against their constitutional rights. The state does acknowledge that new policies are needed to meet the challenges of future outbreak but that in Oct 2014, they had no other means of protecting the public, because so little was known about Ebola. The epidemic has killed tens of thousands of people in West Africa and has finally been brought under control.
The case is centered around two Yale graduates who did travel to Liberia but said they never came into contact with Ebola patients. Both Ryan Boyko and Laura Skrip said that being quarantined affected their personal lives and they were not able to spend time with their families, which caused a lot of emotional distress. The other plaintiffs had housed members of Liberian family and were also quarantined. Dr Jewel Mullen, who was then the health commissioner for the state of Connecticut said that they had never encountered anything like Ebola before and had no policies in place, so they had to do something for the safety of the public. A similar lawsuit has also been filed in New Jersey.