Nurses, a respiratory therapist and anesthetists are among the employees of Our Lady of Lourdes Regional Medical Center and Ochsner Lafayette General facilities across Acadiana who filed lawsuits Monday to halt mandates requiring employees to take a COVID-19 vaccine.

More than 80 people are listed as plaintiffs in two lawsuits filed Monday in 15th Judicial District Court in Lafayette by attorney Jimmy Faircloth Jr. of Alexandria.

The employees are seeking temporary restraining orders, preliminary and permanent injunctions and declaratory judgements against the two medical organizations. They allege the mandates by a private employer violate their rights to decide their own medical care.

Both health systems adopted mandatory vaccination policies as a fourth surge of COVID-19, the delta variant, spread through the state.

Our Lady of Lourdes Regional Medical Center, part of the Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady Health System, adopted a policy Aug. 3 requiring the COVID-19 vaccine "for all team members, employed providers, residents, students in clinical rotations, contract staff, and volunteers." All would be expected to have taken the vaccine by December.

In a statement Monday evening, Our Lady of Lourdes said the hospital's vaccination policy was adopted with considerable study and input by numerous healthcare experts in a variety of relevant fields. While Lourdes values its employees, "Service in the healthcare industry involves unavoidable risks and special obligations. We feel strongly that we have taken appropriate measures to meet those obligations and mitigate the risks associated with the pandemic."

On Aug. 24, after full FDA approval of the Pfizer vaccine, Ochsner issued an order requiring all physicians, vendors, students, staff and residents to take the COVID-19 vaccine by Oct. 29 or risk suspension or loss of their jobs.

Ochsner, in a statement issued Monday afternoon, declined to comment on the lawsuit but wrote that it stands by the science and data demonstrating "the safety and efficacy of COVID-19 vaccinations. Employees with medical or religious objections to the vaccine may file an exemption or deferral request that will be reviewed by a panel of experts," the hospital system stated.

Letters to Ochsner, Lourdes threaten legal action if COVID vaccine mandates not pulled

The Lourdes lawsuit alleges the vaccine mandate abridges employees' constitutional and statutory rights to refuse medical treatment.

The Ochsner Lafayette General lawsuit maintains Louisiana citizens have a right to decide on medical treatment for themselves based on the state constitution and state law and recognized by the courts.

Faircloth, in the Ochsner lawsuit, cites Dr. Joseph A. Ladapo, associate professor at UCLA David Geffen School of Mediciine, writing in The Wall Street Journal that the COVID-19 vaccinations "do not prevent transmission of the disease." 

Further, Faircloth alleges a majority of emerging data "clearly supports that natural immunity may provide superior protection" than the vaccines.

The mandates are "a misguided effort to participate in a public health crusade," he wrote in a news release, adding that the hospitals are trying to accomplish a governmental objective that government is prohibited from achieving.

Faircloth's name may sound familiar. He filed lawsuits on behalf of Acadiana and metro New Orleans bar owners who challenged COVID restrictions by Gov. John Bel Edwards. The state prevailed. He also was executive counsel to former Gov. Bobby Jindal.

A federal judge in June dismissed a lawsuit filed by more than 100 employees of Houston Methodist hospital in Texas after that hospital system imposed a COVID-19 vaccine mandate.

Plaintiffs in the Ochsner lawsuit include:

Lafayette Parish

  • JonMichael Beard, registered nurse.
  • Ansley Bienvenu, registered nurse.
  • Elizabeth “Louise” Blanchard.
  • Tina Boudreaux, nurse practitioner.
  • Cynthia Breaux.
  • Mallory Chricaol.
  • Katherine Duck.
  • Amy Duplechain, nurse practitioner.
  • Casey Faul.
  • Monique Gary, registered nurse.
  • Brandy Miliczek Gibson, registered nurse.
  • Danielle Guidry, registered nurse.
  • Dexter Guidry II, certified registered nurse anesthetist.
  • Amy Hebert, respiratory therapist.
  • Tammy Hebert-Briley, nurse practitioner.
  • Paula Perron Landry.
  • Laurie LeBlanc, pharmacist.
  • Tracey Pellerin, registered nurse.
  • Myra Pete, registered nurse.
  • Marisa Prejean, registered nurse.
  • Sommer Sheffield Begneaud, physician’s assistant
  • Cody Shiers, registered nurse.
  • Melinda Sinclair-Smith, registered nurse.
  • Celia Spallino.
  • Elizabeth Suire, registered nurse.
  • Jordyn Thibodeaux.
  • Susan Thibodeaux.

Acadia Parish

  • Elizabeth Jill Daigle, registered nurse.
  • Chelsea Porter Dewveall, registered nurse.
  • Tanya Eaglin Gallow, licensed practical nurse.
  • Desi Milligan, registered nurse.
  • Dacia Ortego.

Iberia Parish

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  • Emily Bourque.
  • Hester Bourdier, registered nurse.
  • Joni Junca.
  • Brenda Proctor, nurse practitioner.
  • Jamie Schexnayder, registered nurse.

Lafourche Parish

  • Theresa Nelson, licensed practical nurse.

St. Landry Parish

  • Kiley Bertrand Serrette, registered nurse.

St. Martin Parish

  • Shontelle Castille, registered nurse.
  • Deandra Collette, registered nurse.
  • Avanti Morale.
  • Naomi Russo, licensed practical nurse.

Vermilion Parish

  • Amanda Baudoin, occupational therapist.
  • Brittney Freeman.
  • Maria Josette Perrin, pharmacist.

Georgia

  • Sylvia Mikell.

Plaintiffs in the Our Lady of Lourdes lawsuit include:

Registered nurses

  • Deana Aguillard.
  • Rebekah Angelle.
  • JonMichael Beard.
  • Jamie Berg.
  • Ansley Bienvenu.
  • Brea Brinkman.
  • Neily Bundick.
  • Erin Dufour.
  • Diane Hendry.
  • Abigail Mercer Johnson.
  • Katelynn Joubert.
  • Jessica Koski.
  • Heather LeBeouf.
  • Karen Levine.
  • Diane O’Kelly-Farrell.
  • Katherine Connor Self.
  • Kyle Sweezy.
  • Kayla Trahan.
  • Hollister Vincent.
  • Dainelle Williams.

Emergency medical technician

  • Molly Cormier.

Certified registered nurse anesthetists

  • Rich Hargett.
  • Jordan Smith.

Physical therapist

  • Karen Bienvenu.

Position not specified

  • Elizabeth “Louise” Blanchard.
  • Michelle Bouillion.
  • Kelly Daniel.
  • Katherine Duck.
  • Charles Fontenot.
  • Tray LaCombe.
  • “Rad Tech”.
  • Rachel Meaders.
  • Shali Sellers.
  • Celia Spallino.
  • Melissa Stein.
  • Phoebe Wranosky.

Email Claire Taylor at ctaylor@theadvocate.com.