·  Legal News, Analysis, & Commentary

Political Litigation

Denver Judge Dismisses Police Officers’ Suit Against City Vaccine Mandate

— September 30, 2021

In her ruling, the judge said that the officers should have filed an administrative complaint before taking the city to court.

A Denver District judge had dismissed city police officers’ last-minute challenge to an August vaccine mandate, which would require the city’s employees—along with some public-sector workers—to submit proof of inoculation.

According to The Denver Post, District Court Judge Shelley Gilman found that the court lacked jurisdiction, since the police officers who sued to block the mandate had not followed established procedures. In her ruling, Gilman said the officers should have filed an administrative complaint and exhausted or attempted to exhaust their administrative remedies before filing suit against Denver.

While some exceptions to these procedures exit, Gilman determined they were not applicable.

In her dismissal, Gilman noted that Denver public-sector workers may sue the city if they believe that administrative procedures would be futile or ignored. However, Gilman asserted that the plaintiff officers did not have enough reason to believe that Denver would ignore their requests outright.

N95 mask; image by Hanabishi, via Wikimedia Commons, CC0.
N95 mask; image by Hanabishi, via Wikimedia Commons, CC0.

“The court here finds it lacks subject matter jurisdiction to address this issue,” Gilman wrote. “While there have been allegations that it would be futile, the court would find the plaintiffs have failed to establish beyond a reasonable doubt that futility.”

The Post notes that the lawsuit was filed by seven police officers, naming as defendants Denver Mayor Michael Hancock and other city officials.

Their lawsuit asked the court to block Denver’s vaccine mandate for all city employees.

While the complaint has fallen flat, an attorney for the officers, Randy Corporon, said he intends to pursue an administrative complaint with the Department of Public Health and Environment.

Corporon, adds the Post, said he will likely file the complaint on Thursday.

“This is not a medical issue anymore, this is a highly politicized issue,” he said. “So I have very little optimism that we’ll see anything favorable out of the department of health [sic], but the judge said we’ve got to try.”

However, Corporon did say that—if an administrative complaint fails, as he suspects—he will be able to file another lawsuit.

“However long it takes, we’ve got to right this wrong, even if it’s only in a court of law,” he told The Denver Post.

But Judge Gilman and Denver City Attorney Joshua Roberts pointed out that the timing of the officers’ challenge is somewhat suspect.

“This order was issued on Aug. 2,” Roberts said. “Plaintiffs have had adequate time to pursue an administrative remedy; they have chosen not to.”

The Denver Post notes that, beginning this Friday, any city employees who have not yet submitted proof of vaccination risk immediate termination.


Judge dismisses police officers’ lawsuit seeking to overturn Denver vaccine mandate

Vaccine mandate lawsuit filed by 7 DPD officers dismissed by Denver judge

Join the conversation!