The health care worker who sharply criticized being quarantined at a New Jersey hospital last year because she had contact with Ebola patients in West Africa said in a federal civil rights lawsuit filed Thursday that Gov. Chris Christie and the state health department illegally held her against her will.
Kaci Hickox, 34, who was working with Doctors Without Borders in Sierra Leone, is seeking at least $250,000 in compensatory and punitive damages. She was stopped when she arrived at Newark Airport and questioned over several hours before being sent to stay in quarantine in a tent, despite having no symptoms of the disease.
“My liberty, my interests and consequently my civil rights were ignored because some ambitious governors saw an opportunity to use an age-old political tactic: fear,” Hickox said in a statement.
While Hickox was quarantined, Christie said he sympathized with her but said he had to do what he could to ensure public health safety.
She was the first person forced into New Jersey’s mandatory quarantine for health workers who came into contact with Ebola patients, after Christie and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced a quarantine policy. Their plan came under fire from the White House and medical groups.
Hickox, who was a Maine resident at the time, was quarantined for more than two days. She was then driven to Maine, where she almost immediately decided against following the state’s voluntary quarantine.