Trials & Litigation

Nurse who was quarantined during Ebola scare sues Gov. Chris Christie

  • Print.

A nurse quarantined during last year’s Ebola scare is suing the governor of New Jersey.

The Record and the Associated Press reported Thursday that nurse Kaci Hickox has sued Republican Gov. Chris Christie and several members of his administration for violating her constitutional rights.

Last October, Hickox was flying home after spending a month abroad treating Ebola patients in Sierra Leone while working with Doctors Without Borders. She was immediately quarantined upon landing at Newark International Airport while on her way to her home in Maine. Christie had just imposed a mandatory quarantine for people arriving in New Jersey from certain areas in Africa, and Hickox was the first person ensnared by it. The 34-year-old alleges that she was held for three days and denied the right to contact anyone, including a lawyer. She also claims that she was kept in poor conditions in a tent outside a hospital and was not allowed to shower.

“It was clear to me that politicians and in particular Governor Christie were really reacting out of fear,” Hickox told the Record. “When you choose to detain someone out of fear that’s discrimination.”

The lawsuit was filed in New Jersey federal district court and names Christie, former state health commissioner Mary O’Dowd, and two state health department employees.

Christie did not comment to the Record, but has previously defended his actions. “Your first and most important job is to protect the health and safety of the people who live within your borders, and the fact is that we’re doing exactly the right thing,” he has previously said. He also said he wasn’t concerned with a potential lawsuit from Hickox, telling reporters: “I’ve been sued lots of times before. Get in line. I’m happy to take it on.”

After being released from quarantine, Hickox was driven to Maine, where she declined to follow the state’s voluntary quarantine. A judge then rebuffed efforts by state health officials to keep her away from public places, saying she could move about freely.

Hickox is represented by the American Civil Liberties Union and two New York City law firms, McLaughlin & Stern and Siegel Teitelbaum & Evans. She is seeking at least $250,000 in compensatory and punitive damages, according to the AP.

Give us feedback, share a story tip or update, or report an error.