Christie lawyers say settlement close with nurse after Ebola quarantine
NEWARK — New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is nearing a settlement in a lawsuit filed by a nurse who was quarantined in 2014 after working in Sierra Leone during the deadly Ebola outbreak, according to court documents.
Attorneys representing Christie said in a letter last week to District Judge James Clark that the governor reached the agreement to settle "in principle" with Kaci Hickox.
The letter did not include details, and the American Civil Liberties Union, which represents Hickox, didn't immediately respond to a request for comment Sunday.
Hickox was working with Doctors Without Borders in the west African nation during the Ebola outbreak. She was stopped when she arrived at Newark Liberty International Airport and was quarantined. She later tested negative for Ebola and was allowed to go to Maine, where she lived at the time. She now lives in Oregon.
A judge in September dismissed federal claims that Christie violated Hickox's constitutional rights because of the quarantine, but U.S. District Judge Kevin McNulty ruled that she could proceed with parts of her lawsuit alleging false imprisonment and invasion of privacy.
Hickox said in a statement at the time that one thing is certain: "This decision vindicates my rights by giving me the opportunity to find out from Governor Christie directly whether the decision to detain me was motivated by science or by politics," she said in a statement. "Christie was ultimately responsible for my detention, and he should have to answer for it and show it was made in good faith."
The state argued that the primary objective of Christie, then-health commissioner Mary O'Dowd and other officials was the "safety and general welfare" of the public during the Ebola virus outbreak. State lawyers maintained that health workers acted with the public's safety in mind when they had Hickox quarantined and that Christie and the other officials are immune from lawsuits over public health quarantines.
The outbreak of Ebola, which is spread through contact with an infected person's bodily fluids, killed thousands of people in Africa. Only a few people were treated for Ebola in the United States.
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