Feds: Dismiss USMMA cadets’ lawsuit over school’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate

A court is expected to dismiss the lawsuit of six cadets challenging the US Merchant Marine Academy’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate because no Kings Point school midshipman has been harmed by the requirement, according to a federal prosecutor.

Plaintiffs are unable to show “a substantial likelihood that their claims will be constitutionally mature as they are riddled with contingencies and speculation,” Breon Peace, U.S. District Attorney for the Eastern District, wrote in a 33-page response this week to the trial. November.

In October, the academy announced that all first-year plebeians and second-to-fourth year aspirants must be fully immunized by December 28 – the same deadline the Defense Ministry set for other members. of the service – or be deregistered from the academy.

Peace argued in its response on Monday that to date no cadet has been “reprimanded or recommended to deregister” from USMMA for being unvaccinated.

“Additionally, the Academy currently has no plans at this time to reprimand any student who chooses to remain unvaccinated,” Peace wrote. “All that is required of a midshipman or USMMA plebe who is not inclined to be vaccinated is that they must notify the academy of their intention to seek an exemption.” medical or religious by December 14, 2021 and continue to follow the instructions of the Academy. hygiene and safety protocols. ”

USMMA has yet to release final procedures on how to handle requests for medical or religious exemptions and will withhold student deregistration until those guidelines are released, Peace said.

“Complainants have a choice: declare their intention to seek an exemption or to be vaccinated,” Peace wrote. “It is only a student who refuses to make the choice who can face sanctions up to and including unsubscription.”

Staten Island attorneys Mark Fonte and Louis Gelormino, who represent the cadets, did not respond to a request for comment on the federal government‘s response.

Last week, lawyers argued that vaccination was never a requirement for attending the Academy.

“It is simply illegal and unfair to change the enrollment requirements in the middle of their tenure at school,” the lawyers said in a statement. “Many of these cadets would have chosen different career paths if this requirement had been in place when they joined the academy. “

USMMA declined to comment on the lawsuit, citing the ongoing litigation.

The lawsuit seeks damages and unspecified costs. It appoints the United States Maritime Administration and the United States Department of Transportation, which oversee the nation’s maritime academies.

According to the lawsuit, unvaccinated first and second year cadets do not have the option of transferring credits to other colleges or universities to complete their studies. Aspirants could risk incurring hefty unsubscribe penalties, the lawsuit said, including paying the academy $ 260,000, the value of four years of schooling.

USMMA trains men and women to become midshipmen on ocean-going ships and in the military.

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