NEW ORLEANS, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – The Louisiana Supreme Court on Friday upheld the Caddo District Court’s ruling that Ochsner LSU Health can mandate vaccinations for employees, overturning the Second Circuit Court of Appeals reversal of the trial court’s decision.

The high court agreed with Caddo District Judge Craig Marcotte’s decision to throw out the lawsuit, meaning that Ochsner LSU Health in Shreveport was within its rights to mandate vaccines for all employees.

On August 24, one day after the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine was given full approval by the Federal Drug Administration, Ochsner Health issued a mandate requiring all its employees to be vaccinated by Oct. 29.

All but 1% of employees complied with the mandate. In October, around 40 employees at Ochsner’s Shreveport location filed suit against Ochsner LSU Heath.

The lawsuit, filed Oct. 6 in Caddo District Court, disputed Ochsner’s right to force the mandate, saying that Louisiana law, Article 1, Section 5, gives citizens “an affirmative, fundamental right to decide whether to obtain or reject medical treatment guaranteed by the state constitution, codified in statute and long recognized by the courts.”

Judge Craig Marcotte had thrown out an October 5 lawsuit, meaning Ochsner’s mandate was legal.

The plaintiffs responded by filing with the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, overturning Marcotte’s decision, and ordering Marcotte to hold a hearing on the mandate and to block enforcement until its legality is decided.

But Ochsner Shreveport appealed that decision to the Louisiana Supreme Court, and in Friday’s 12-page opinion, the lawsuit was tossed.

Louisiana’s COVID-19 numbers continued to rise Friday, breaking the single-day pandemic record for the second straight day with 14,802 new COVID-19 cases. Some 1,521 patients were hospitalized in the state, 68 of them on ventilators, and authorities said there have been 16 deaths — up from 12 — in the 24 hours ending at noon Friday.

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