Updated February 2, 9:00 am …
Attorney Gregory Piccirilli has provided The Current with a copy of his fiery response to the RIDOH, after it backtracked on its failed bait-and-switch attempt to promulgate new school mask mandate regulations that were in defiance of the agreed upon language, which was sanctioned by RI Superior Court.
RIDOH attorney Justin Sullivan, after failing to respond for 4-5 days, admitted to Picirilli in a January 31 email that the Department suffered an “inadvertent mix-up” and a “clerical mistake” in posting the wrong regulations, which included blatantly absurd provisions (see below).
However, Picirilli was not buying Sullivan’s claim, responding with his own letter that blasted RIDOH for its incompetence, its history of illicit legal conduct in this case, and its treatment of the plaintiffs … and stating that “given the past conduct of individuals at RIDOH … (and the State) … we tend to doubt the clerical mistake excuse.”
Piccirilli also legally destroyed Sullivan’s claim – that communications between the government and plaintiff teams were to be treated as confidential – by countering that such court ordered confidentiality was no longer required since a settlement had been reached and that the case was effectively closed. Piccirilli added that “going public” and shaming the government was “the only way I can get the State to operate in good faith.”
In the end, the proper proposed RIDOH regulations will apparently now be subject to public scrutiny and hearings, as stipulated in the settlement. Piccirilli, appropriately, agreed to withdraw his contempt of court motion.
Updated January 30, 3:00 pm …
Attorney Gregory Piccirilli today filed a contempt of court motion, seeking remedies from RI’s Superior Court, after accusing the RI Department of Health of violating the agreement that was reached in court just weeks ago. Medical and legal experts The Current has spoken with are stunned at the apparent thumb-in-the-eye to the Court and to the parent-plaintiffs by RIDOH, underscoring its continued rogue and unaccountable actions and further damaging its already tarnished public image.
In the motion filed today, the plaintiffs are now seeking attorneys fees and “any other remedy” the Court may deem appropriate, in addition to changing the proposed regulations back to what was legally agreed upon.
This past Friday, in a shocking development following an apparent victory by parent-plaintiffs in the Southwell vs McKee school mask mandate lawsuit, the RI Department of Health has apparently violated the court-approved Dismissal Stipulation by proposing new regulatory language that violates the terms and spirt of the stipulation agreement.
The Current has obtained a copy of the email that plaintiff attorney Greg Piccirilli sent in response to RIDOH. He claims the proposed regulations are indeed a violation of the agreed upon court ‘dismissal stipulation’, calling the bogus regulatory language a “bait and switch.” Piccirilli is asking for an immediate language change, or else he swill notify the Superior Court judge and seek a contempt hearing.
At issue, is whether or not RIDOH, in the future, might impose school mask mandates, as they did during the Covid-19 pandemic … a community masking policy that the court ruled caused “irreparable harm” to many students … arbitrarily and without any firm scientific or research basis.
Stunningly, the RIDOH proposed language (click here to view entire document) includes a passage that states in section 4.3.B; “An absence of scientific evidence regarding the effectiveness of face masks against a specific pathogen will not prevent the Department from considering a face mask requirement.”
Commented Mike Stenhouse, CEO for the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity, “RIDOH all but admits they have, and will, impose school mask mandates without any scientific evidence. It is astounding that our own department of health would make any decision that might negatively impact the physical health, education, & emotional development of our children, based on a mere statement.”
The full email from Piccirilli to RIDOH contracted laywer, Justin Sullivan, and copied to four other lawyers in the Office of Attorney General, reads:
“Justin, in reviewing the proposed regulation that you sent to ORR, it is not what we agreed to. I went back through my emails with Kenny Alston as far back as May and I have never seen it worded this way. In fact, this is why I sent Matthew Shaw an email on January 3 with the proposed regulation to be attached to the stipulation. I did not expect a bait and switch.
It appears sections 4.3.A and B are different. The biggest concern with what you sent to ORR is the inclusion of this language in 4.3.B:
“An absence of scientific evidence regarding the effectiveness of face masks against a specific pathogen will not prevent the Department from considering a face mask requirement.”
Seriously, who at RIDOH thought it was good to include this language? It is already being mocked mercilessly. So simple question, will you change the regulation to what was agreed to? If not, you are in violation of the dismissal stipulation, and I will notify the Judge for a contempt hearing.
Gregory P. Piccirilli, Esq.”