Back in March, right before the lockdown, the Administrative Law Judge adjourned the March 16 hearing to June 8. Recently, the judge held a new prehearing conference to determine whether the case should go forward by telephone, videoconference or be adjourned. As a result of the conference, the judge decided with the consent of the parties to adjourn the hearing until late September. The new hearing date is the week of September 21st.
Needless to say, much has transpired since the case was originally set for hearing. Most of the news now focuses on the pandemic, the resulting lockdown, reopening, testing, and contract tracing. There is now much talk about whether there will be a vaccine and if so whether it will be mandated.
In the last two months I have given a lot of thought to these issues and how they might affect Ken Stoller’s case. The current situation presents some dangers but also some opportunities. As I will discuss in separate posts on my website, for both better and worse, vaccines are now front and center on the public’s radar screen. Many of you are fearful that a vaccine will be rushed and that it will be mandatory. For, reasons I will discuss in an actual post, I do not think that is going to happen so fast.
For now, in terms of Ken’s case, we are in the process of reevaluating possible opportunities to broaden the scope of the hearing, in light of what is happened and what may likely happen in the next few months. Nothing is set in stone but there are interesting opportunities and new lines of argument and evidence which could change things.
On a related note, I now know of and/or represent seven other NorCal physicians who are under active investigation by the board for writing medical exemptions. I would not expect any of those cases to go to hearing prior to early to mid 2021.
On another related note, I continue to hear from families that their children’s schools are questioning the validity of the permanent medical exemptions issued by these physicians, or simply being told that the exemptions will not be accepted next school year. This is despite the fact that there is yet no legal basis for the rejection of any medical exemption except those written by the one SoCal physician who is currently under a probation order.This will no doubt come to a head if and when school opens up sometime in the fall.
Rick Jaffe, Esq.