Kaci Hickox, the nurse who sued New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and other state health officials over her quarantine due to her contact with Ebola patients in West Africa, asked a judge Tuesday not to dismiss the lawsuit. Hickox’s lawsuit was filed last year against former Department of Health Commissioner Mary E. O'Dowd and other department officials for forcing her to go under quarantine and being held there for 80 hours after she returned from Sierra Leone in October 2014.
In the latest brief, Hickox’s team said that despite the law allowing limited immunity to officials ordering legal quarantines under “good faith,” the decision to quarantine her was made in “bad faith” due to no “medical or epidemiological justification,” NJ.com, a local news website reported. Hickox was quarantined after she returned with an elevated temperature according to a temporal thermometer, but her other readings, including oral thermometers and blood tests, showed that she did not contract Ebola.
The latest filing added, according to NJ.com, that even if the initial detention was legal, it “ceased to be constitutional when Defendants received the first set of blood test results said that Hickox tested negative for Ebola.” The filing also added that the state’s decision to release her from the three-week incubation period showed that Christie and the health officials “knew they had no basis” to keep her in detention.
Hickox’s brief said, according to the Associated Press, that her constitutional rights regarding unlawful seizure and unnecessary restraints were violated. She reportedly said in the statement that Christie and the health department officials “downplayed my valid objections and ignored my rights.”
Lawyers for the state said that the health officials acted with keeping public safety in mind. A spokesman for Christie and state Attorney General’s office said in a filing asking to dismiss Hickox’s complaint that a quarantine was a “reasonable” response to people coming in from a region, which had a fatal, communicable disease.
“Even if it were true that Ms. Hickox was entirely 'asymptomatic' and only 'at risk of exposure' ... she still satisfied the conditions of being subject to quarantine," the complaint said, according to NJ.com.
The Ebola outbreak that started a year and a half ago has in West Africa killed over 11,300 people and has now been declared over. The disease had badly affected Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia, and healthcare officials are trying to find drugs that can cure it and improvise health infrastructure to avoid such an outbreak.