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Student files lawsuit against U of M system over vaccine requirement

The 20-year-old UMD student says he tested positive for COVID in November, can provide evidence of immunity, and has the right to refuse a vaccination.

DULUTH, Minn. — Editor's note: The video above originally aired on Aug. 9, 2021. 

A student at the University of Minnesota-Duluth has filed a lawsuit challenging a vaccination mandate put in place before the 2021-22 school year.

The lawsuit names University of Minnesota (U of M) President Joan Gabel, the U of M Board of Regents and the University of Minnesota system of five campuses as defendants, and seeks to overturn the mandate that all students be vaccinated by Oct. 8. 

Court documents show the plaintiff is an unnamed 20-year-old undergraduate student from the Duluth campus, listed as John Doe, who was diagnosed with COVID-19 in November of 2020. The lawsuit maintains that the student can provide evidence of immunity against COVID due to contracting the virus, and has no medical condition that might create serious health risks if he were to become ill with COVID again.

"Accepting the COVID-19 vaccine violates the Petitioner's conscientiously-held, but not specifically religious beliefs. If injunctive relief is not granted by the Court on or before October 8, 2021, Petitioner will be forced to relinquish his fundamental rights and conscientious beliefs, or harm his long-term job and education prospects and change colleges."

KARE 11 contacted the University of Minnesota and received the following statement on the lawsuit. 

"The University is currently reviewing the petition. We are confident in the operational decisions we made regarding vaccinations for our community. Our actions reflect the high priority we place on creating the safest, healthiest possible campus environment for our students, faculty and staff."

RELATED: University of Minnesota mandates COVID-19 vaccine for students

The lawsuit goes on to allege that the vaccine may have negative long-term effects on young people such as the UMD student, and that U of M President Joan Gabel exceeded her authority by mandating that students be vaccinated to attend the university system, maintaining that only the state's health commissioner has that authority. 

The Petitioner is asking the courts to block the vaccine mandate that is to take effect Oct. 8, and to prevent future attempts by Gable, the Board of Regents and the U of M system to institute a mandatory COVID-19 immunization policy. The lawsuit also asks that the defendants cover court costs in the matter. 

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