Newly minted lawyer challenges COVID restrictions in 'impenetrable thicket' of arguments
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Ohio lawyer Thomas Renz quickly gained prominence in conservative circles by challenging COVID-19 mandates in a series of lawsuits filed after he passed the bar exam in November 2019 on his fifth try.
Renz leads federal lawsuits in six states challenging COVID-19 shutdowns, mask mandates and vaccine requirements, the Washington Post reports. The states are Alabama, Kentucky, Maine, Michigan, New Mexico and Ohio.
Renz explained why he is handling COVID-19 litigation in an email to the Post. “I sincerely wish that the big firms would step up but they have not so it is left to nobodies like me,” he said.
Renz appears to have little previous litigation experience, according to a search of Ohio cases by the Post.
In one case he defended a man charged with DUI and in another he defended a man charged with aggravated menacing. The Post notes that there would be no legal records in any nonpublic cases handled by Renz, such as those involving juveniles.
In Ohio federal court, Renz filed three lawsuits related to the pandemic. One was withdrawn in March after U.S. District Judge James Carr asked Renz to show cause why it shouldn’t be dismissed.
Carr said the first complaint filed by Renz and his co-counsel was “well-nigh incomprehensible.” The judge said an amended complaint was “an impenetrable thicket of often conclusory and speculative assertions, allegations, contentions, innuendo, and legal arguments and citations.”
The complaint is “neither short nor plain,” Carr concluded, citing federal lawsuit requirements. Renz told the Post he disagreed with the judge’s assessment.
Renz has filed affidavits in his Alabama and Michigan lawsuits in which an unnamed whistleblower says the COVID-19 vaccine has caused the deaths of 45,000 people.
The whistleblower, a computer programmer, cited information in a database of unverified reports of vaccine reactions, and said she believes the true number of vaccine deaths was five times higher than reported number of about 9,000.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, however, has found no causal link between vaccines and any deaths.
Renz has created a nonprofit group called For God Family Country that is collecting money for his litigation. Another group led by a friend who contends the pandemic was a hoax, Make Americans Free Again, is also raising money with a goal of collecting at least $100 million.
Renz told the Post, he has been paid about $250,000 for the litigation so far, which has been taking up most of his time. “I am certainly not making much off of this,” he added.
Renz is a law graduate of Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland. He grew up in a small town in Ohio where his family owned a bowling alley and an electronics shop.
During the period when he was taking the bar exam, he became president of a small credit union and, after that job, worked at a nonprofit that says it wants to counter a “radical Islamic cultural invasion.”
Renz left the credit union after two employees accused him of sexual harassment, the Post reports. He was terminated from the next job, according to the group’s chief operating officer.
Renz told the Post the harassment allegations were “flatly untrue.”
The Post says Renz’s “quick public ascent illustrates how promoting misinformation about the pandemic can be an effective fundraising tool and lead to renown within the portion of the country that remains suspicious of coronavirus vaccines, despite their general acceptance by the medical and scientific communities.”