Worker and Immigrant Rights Advocacy Clinic/Yale Global Health Justice Partnership
Liberian Community Association of Connecticut v. Malloy
The Yale Global Health Justice Partnership and the Jerome N. Frank Legal Services Organization represent West African immigrants, a healthcare worker, and public health students challenging a pattern and practice of unlawful quarantine of travelers from countries affected by Ebola.
In fall 2014, when West Africa was facing an Ebola epidemic, sensationalist media accounts stoked public fears that travelers would carry the virus across the Atlantic to Connecticut. In response, Governor Malloy, in a tight race for reelection, purported to grant the state Department of Public Health (DPH) sweeping authority to quarantine anyone entering Connecticut from West Africa. DPH used that power to quarantine immigrants and public health students who showed no symptoms of Ebola, in violation of state and federal statutes and the Connecticut and United States Constitutions.
On February 8, 2016, Connecticut residents filed a proposed class action in U.S. District Court against Governor Dannel Malloy, Acting Commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Public Health Raul Pino, and former Commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Public Health Dr. Jewel Mullen. The Plaintiffs are one current and one former public health student quarantined upon their return from a humanitarian trip to Liberia in fall 2014; a West African family of six that was quarantined in October 2014; the aunt in whose house the family was quarantined and who was required to care for them; a religious leader who travels between churches in West Haven and Liberia and his wife; the Liberian Community Association of Connecticut; and a physician who specializes in emergency medicine and has treated Ebola patients in West Africa.
The plaintiffs seek damages for past quarantines and also ask the court to enjoin Connecticut from imposing future unjustified quarantines. To date, Governor Malloy has not revoked his emergency order authorizing quarantine of asymptomatic travelers, nor have state officials disavowed their unlawful and unjustified quarantine policies and practices.
“The effects of the quarantines were severe. Young children who should have been making new friends in school were confined to a basement for three weeks. Local Liberians were asked by community members not to return to work and to keep their children off of public school buses,” said Flomo Freeman, President of the Liberian Community Association of Connecticut. “Community members fear traveling to see family and friends in Liberia because we know from the state’s past conduct that future Ebola cases in West Africa may spur further mistreatment in Connecticut.”
The lawsuit builds on a report issued in December 2015 by the American Civil Liberties Union and the Yale Global Health Justice Partnership.
Complaint filed in U.S. District Court (filed 2/8/2016)