Using strong words to characterize what he called attempts by Deters Law to delay and multiply litigation over vaccine mandates, U.S. District Judge Timothy Black sanctioned the Northern Kentucky firm and declared it a "vexatious litigant" Tuesday in court filings.
The characterization came as the Cincinnati judge granted a motion for sanctions from five major health care organizations in the region that were sued by Independence-based Deters Law over COVID-19 vaccine mandates. Black, in his ruling, said he was not punishing Deters Law and Glenn Feagan for the litigation it pursued but rather was sanctioning the firm for "improper conduct and procedural abuse of the judicial system."
Black ordered Deters Law to pay the health systems a number of attorneys fees and costs incurred. The total amount won't be known until the hospitals submit documents. The health systems include Christ Hospital Health Network, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, Mercy Health, TriHealth and UC Health.
Scroll to the bottom of the story to read the full 15-page decision.
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"The court sanctions Deters Law and Mr. Feagan because they needlessly delayed, unreasonably multiplied, and increased the costs of the proceedings," the judge wrote. "This court cannot, and will not, condone Deters Law and Mr. Feagan's gamesmanship, delay tactics, and publicly confessed judge shopping."
Eric Deters, a spokesman for Deters Law, said the firm will appeal the order. He accused the judge of "being vindictive" towards Deters Law.
"Judge Black hates our law firm and he hates me, personally," Deters said. "We will win on appeal. The decision is mean and political and wrong."
Deters noted that the law firm represented healthcare workers at no cost, in an effort to help them.
"We did all we could to help healthcare workers and this decision we believe is based on politics, not law and justice," Deters added in a text message. "Judge Black is an Obama-appointed judge and never hid his anger at us for even filing the lawsuit."
"Quite simply, he's not only wrong, he's being vindictive," Deters further said.
The ruling is not the first time Black has been critical of the attorneys who sought to block COVID-19 vaccine mandates. Last year, the judge said the firm made false claims and espoused "unsupported conspiracy theories" in a decision refusing to block the mandates.
The sanctions in Cincinnati come after a federal judge in Northern Kentucky dismissed a motion for sanctions against Deters Law in February.
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This article originally appeared on Cincinnati Enquirer: Failed suit mandatory covid shots for health workers results in fees