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LITIGATION NOTE: Crowell & Moring Defeats Preliminary Injunction Motion, Securing Swift Dismissal of Case Seeking to Halt University of California Flu Vaccination Requirement

San Francisco – December 21, 2020: In a novel constitutional case, Crowell & Moring secured a decisive victory for the University of California (UC) by defeating a motion for preliminary injunction which sought to halt the implementation of an Executive Order requiring that all UC students, employees, and faculty working, studying, or living on campus to get a flu shot by November 1. UC was one of dozens of U.S. colleges and universities that implemented a flu vaccine requirement this year, due to the confluence of the 2020-21 flu season and the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic.

Working within a condensed timeline, the Crowell & Moring team argued that UC’s flu vaccine requirement was constitutional because there was a real and substantial relationship between the flu vaccine mandate and public health, and that the plaintiffs lacked standing to challenge the president’s authority to issue the Order or to assert privacy or equal protection claims based on religious beliefs.

On December 4, the Honorable Richard L. Seabolt of the Alameda County Superior Court issued the Court’s written decision supporting its denial of the motion for preliminary injunction at the November 5 hearing. The Court determined that the plaintiffs failed to demonstrate a reasonable probability that they would prevail on the merits of any of their claims and that the balance of harms favored denial of the injunction. The Court followed a long line of cases upholding vaccine mandates against similar constitutional challenges. The Court considered the evidence and determined that the “flu vaccine mandate [is] critically important in reducing burdens on an already overburdened health care system” and that plaintiffs had not shown they were subject to the Executive Order due to their ongoing remote work and distance learning off campus. On December 9, the plaintiffs filed a request for dismissal with prejudice, bringing the case to a swift end.

Crowell & Moring acted as counsel for UC in this matter. The team was led by partner A. Marisa Chun and included partners Dan Sharp, Tom Gies, Laurel Pyke Malson, and Kristin Madigan, counsels Suzanne Rode, Molly A. Jones, and Pilar Stillwater, and associate Yao Mou.

The case is Kiel, et al. v. The Regents of the University of California, et al., Case No. HG20072843 (Cal. Superior Ct., Alameda Cty.).


An Pham
Senior Communications Manager