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Verdicts & Settlements

Judge Says There’s Nothing Unconstitutional About New York State’s Quarantine Requirement for Travelers

— August 15, 2020

An Arizona woman sued New York after Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s quarantine restrictions ruined her vacation.

A federal judge has dismissed an Arizona woman’s lawsuit against New York, in which she claimed the state’s mandatory 14-day quarantine for travelers infringed on her constitutional right to travel.

U.S. District Court Judge David Hurd ordered the dismissal Tuesday, marking the second time courts have discarded lawsuits against New York’s quarantine measures.

According to USA Today, the state’s quarantine measures currently affect 31 states, along with Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Travelers visiting New York from any these areas—identified by Gov. Andrew Cuomo as coronavirus hotspots—must undergo a mandatory 14-day quarantine. While it has been difficult for New York to actually enforce its quarantine rule, violators face a hefty fine and potential imprisonment.

USA Today notes that the lawsuit was filed by Arizona resident Cynthia Page.

In her complaint, Page claimed that Gov. Cuomo’s executive action directing travelers to self-isolate prevented her from visiting a friend in Brooklyn and helping that friend move.

The trip, explains Page, was to be her “last chance to see the sights of New York City” with her friends.

The quarantine requirement, Page says, effectively ruined her trip—an occurrence which “was and continues to be very upsetting.”

However, in his decision, Judge Hurd was quick to observe that New York’s quarantine rules do not actually stop anyone from traveling.

“Under the plain terms of the Executive Order, individuals from restricted states remain free to enter New York,” Hurd said. “They must comply with the quarantine requirement after they arrive.”

Image of New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, taken by Zack Seward/Flickr. (CCA-BY-2.0)/n-deriv.

“Whether resident or non-resident, any traveler who completes the quarantine remains completely free to travel within the State itself,” he wrote.

Not surprisingly, Hurd’s decision was not received well by either Page or her attorney, David Yerushalmi. In a separate statement, Yerushalmi told The New York Post that his client plans to appeal. He, himself, called Hurd’s ruling “thoughtful but wrong.”

“Judge Hurd has responded out of the fear of the pandemic but has ignored basic constitutional law,” Yerushalmi said.

Hurd, though, appears confident in his own reasoning—not only did he reject Page’s request for immediate injunctive relief, but he tossed the lawsuit outright. In his ruling, he insisted that what New York and Gov. Cuomo are doing is not unexpected in light of the ongoing pandemic.

“There is nothing conscience-shocking about the Executive Order,” Hurd wrote. “States around the country are grappling with an unfolding public health crisis.”

Page’s lawsuit is but one of many filed against states with coronavirus mitigation efforts in place. Richard Azzopardi, a spokesperson for New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, implied the ruling against Page was expected.

“I’ve lost track of the frivolous suits filed against the state during this pandemic,” he said.


Arizona woman loses legal fight over Cuomo’s quarantine rules

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Judge rejects ‘right to travel’ challenge to New York’s coronavirus quarantine rules

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