Fields & Brown Successfully Defends Local School District in Lawsuit Filed by Missouri Attorney General
Missouri’s Attorney General recently filed a lawsuit against the Hickman Mills C-1 School District, as part of a generalized strategy to sue selected Missouri school districts that had enacted a face mask requirement. In summary, he claimed that school districts had absolutely no authority to implement such requirements under the pretext of protecting students. Moreover, the Attorney General claimed that requiring students to wear face masks actually harmed students. Fields & Brown filed a Motion to Dismiss on Hickman Mills behalf. Apart from the fact that at the time the lawsuit was filed, face masks were not being required by Hickman Mills, the Motion asserted that the underling basis of the lawsuit was fatally flawed. Contrary to the misguided claims in the Petition, the implementation of a face mask requirement at Hickman Mills was a legitimate action of its democratically elected school board, which was statutorily authorized to promulgate rules governing students within the district. Indeed, it was the very type of action that fell squarely within the authority of the Board of Directors to address a public health crisis. Moreover, the Hickman Mills further argued that the Attorney General lacked standing to bring the action because neither he nor the State of Missouri were impacted by the face mask requirement. Moreover, the lawsuit could not have been filed in support of all Missouri residents because each Missouri community had their own school district with their own safety requirements. Finally, the District argued that the primary statute used by the Attorney General to support the lawsuit was unconstitutional, and that public health was not within the sole province of the Department of Health and Senior Services. Prior to even responding to the Motion to Dismiss, the Attorney General dismissed the lawsuit.
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