A judge has dismissed federal claims Gov. Chris Christie violated the constitutional rights of a nurse quarantined because she had contact with Ebola patients in West Africa.
U.S. District Judge Kevin McNulty agreed with state lawyers that the Republican governor and state health officials are immune from the case brought by nurse Kaci Hickox. But he ruled in a decision published last week that Hickox can proceed with parts of her lawsuit alleging false imprisonment and invasion of privacy.
Hickox was working with Doctors Without Borders in Sierra Leone during the deadly Ebola outbreak in 2014. She was stopped when she arrived at Newark Airport and was questioned and quarantined. She later tested negative for Ebola and was allowed to go to Maine, where she lived at the time. She now lives in Oregon.
The American Civil Liberties Union is representing Hickox in the case. Ed Barocas, legal director for the ACLU in New Jersey, said the judge’s decision means that Christie and other state officials will have to go through the discovery process to show they acted in good faith in quarantining Hickox.
“This decision vindicates my rights by giving me the opportunity to find out from Gov. Christie directly whether the decision to detain me was motivated by science or by politics,” Hickox said in a statement. “Christie was ultimately responsible for my detention, and he should have to answer for it and show it was made in good faith.”
Hickox’s remaining allegations include a false light claim against Christie for saying that she was “obviously ill.” Her lawsuit seeks $250,000.