LOS ANGELES (CNS) - Two members of a group of Los Angeles firefighters who sued the city over its requirement that city employees be vaccinated against the coronavirus have offered sworn declarations in support of their positions ahead of a hearing scheduled Monday on their request for a preliminary injunction.
The Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit was filed Sept. 17 by the nonprofit Firefighters4Freedom Foundation, alleging the city's directive violates their constitutionally protected right to privacy. The suit asks Judge Michael P. Linfield to grant a court order stopping the city from firing any city firefighters, or taking any other adverse employment action that could lead to termination, without first providing them with a hearing before an impartial officer.
``I do not want to get the shot and do not intend to get it,'' says Battalion Chief Robert L. Kilpatrick, a 34-year LAFD veteran, in a declaration filed Wednesday. ``I have personal and medical reasons for my decision and believe I have a right to privacy under the California Constitution to make those decisions for myself. I believe that the forced disclosure of my personal medical information violates my right to privacy.''
Kilpatrick says he was placed off-duty without pay on Nov. 12.
``I have a family and cannot afford to wait that long without pay,'' Kilpatrick says. ``I will be forced to leave my job and give up the protections I earned while serving the people of the city of Los Angeles.''
LAFD Fire Engineer Mark Muus, a co-founder of Firefighters4Freedom and a 13-year department veteran, says in his declaration brought Wednesday that he was one of more than 130 firefighters placed on unpaid leave on Dec. 9 for refusing to be vaccinated.
``Aside from the recent discipline I received for refusing the vaccine, I have not been disciplined for any wrongdoing as an employee of Los Angeles City Fire Department,'' Muus says. ``As such, I have no other history of discipline.''
Firefighters4Freedom has more than 900 members, according to Muus, who says he and his fellow unvaccinated firefighters have not heard when they may receive any due process hearings.
``Based on my discussions with other firefighters for the city of Los Angeles, many unvaccinated firefighters are working every day,'' Muus says. ``Some firefighters requested and received religious or medical exemptions to the vaccine. Other firefighters were simply lucky and were not placed on administrative leave.''
The City Attorney's Office has offered several sworn declarations in rebuttal, including that of Battalion Chief Scott Quinn, commander of the LAFD's risk management section. He oversees the department's data collection efforts of members who are infected with COVID-19 and the measures taken in support of safe working environments.
Despite all the steps taken, 1,134 department members tested positive for the coronavirus from March 15, 2020, to Dec. 8 of this year, according to Quinn.
Quinn further says he believes that based on the data collected from the inception of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020 until the present, he concludes there is a ``firefighter to firefighter spread in the workplace'' of the coronavirus. On any given day, the number of firefighters who are off work and in isolation due to COVID-19 exposure has varied from 0 to 186, according to Quinn.