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Federal judge dismisses Washington medical lawsuit alleging free speech violations

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(The Center Square) – A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed against the Washington Medical Commission’s investigations of two licensed medical professionals accused of publishing false information about COVID-19.

The lawsuit, which was co-filed against WMC Executive Director Kyle S. Karinen by former NBA basketball player and Gonzaga alumnus John Stockton, argued that the investigations violated the physicians’ right to free speech as well as those who wished to hear beliefs that went against “mainstream COVID narrative,” according to court documents.

In one instance, charges were filed in August 2022 by the commission against a physician after he wrote newspaper articles that “minimized deaths” from COVID and “falsely stated that COVID-19 vaccines and mRNA vaccines are harmful or ineffective.”

No formal decision has been made in that case, or the separate case involving another physician plaintiff after charges were filed against them in September. In addition to questioning the safety of the COVID-19 vaccines, both physicians argued in their writings that ivermectin is a safe and effective treatment for COVID-19.

Granting the State Attorney General’s Office’s motion to dismiss, U.S. District Court Judge Thomas O. Rice concluded that the plaintiff’s claims are “unripe. Plaintiffs have not stated a plausible as-applied First Amendment challenge, and Plaintiffs’ First Amendment and Due Process challenges are without merit.”

One of the reasons, the court argued, is that the plaintiffs have no faced any formal sanction for their writings. “While Plaintiffs allege that the Commission’s actions have a chilling effect, Plaintiffs have in fact continued to press their narratives about COVID-19 while Commission proceedings have been ongoing.”

However, the court also denied the AGO’s request for the plaintiffs to pay attorney fees, noting it “finds this lawsuit is unwarranted given the stage of the administrative proceedings, but does not find it frivolous, unreasonable, or without foundation.”

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