As follow-up to the December 12 settlement terms that were agreed to by all parties in the judge's chambers, an official "Dismissal Stipulation" was filed today in Rhode Island's Superior Court in the Southwell-vs-McKee case, with requisite signatures from all parties.

“Dismissal Stipulation” Agreed to by Parent Plaintiffs and ‘Hypocritical’ State Lawyers Filed in School Mask Mandate Lawsuit

State of RI all but admits that it had no procedural or scientific basis to impose its harmful school mask mandates

As follow-up to the December 12 settlement terms that were agreed to by all parties in the judge’s chambers, an official “Dismissal Stipulation” was filed today in Rhode Island’s Superior Court in the Southwell-vs-McKee case, with requisite signatures from all parties.

The court document, which can be viewed by clicking here, puts forth the terms that will end the lawsuit against the State and Governor McKee, one of which requires that the RI Department of Health follow its own rules and officially initiates a public comment and hearing process that will establish a new Proposed Permanent Regulation (PPR) that RIDOH must follow before it ever again may “prospectively require statewide face masks for all students in a K-12 setting to prevent the spread of an infectious disease.”

The “stip” agreement is a major victory for the parent plaintiffs and their attorney, Gregory Piccirilli, who withstood repeated efforts by the State’s large team of taxpayer-funded lawyers to have the case dismissed, but who prevailed in the end.

Without specifically stating any wrongdoing, the dismissal stipulation was a tacit admission by RIDOH and the Governor that it acted improperly in imposing the unsupported school mask mandates in the first place. The PPR is, in essence, is a legal promise not to act improperly again.

Within 30 days of its execution, RIDOH  is required initiate the normal regulatory process and hold open-hearings to consider and accept the PPR – a process RIDOH ignored during the Covid-19 pandemic, when it first issued related mandates.

Ironically, and hypocritically, the official filing of the stipulation agreement was delayed when lawyers for the defendants, from RIDOH and the RI Attorney General’s office, said they would first require the PPR to go through the proper rulemaking procedures by the Office of Regulatory Reform, fallowing the state’s Administrative Procedures Act … a process that could take weeks … and the very same process the State brazenly eschewed when first mandating its school mask policies. RIDOH’s unlawful school mask mandate process was one basis for the lawsuit.

However, after Piccirilli voiced objections to the delay, the parties agreed to file the stipulation agreement with the court before the PPR language was formally approved, so long as the stip included a provision that required the PPR to be in a form substantially agreed to on December 12.

The stip also defined terms for the pending public comment session, or open hearings (expected this spring), whereby the public, the Plaintiffs, and experts invited by the Plaintiffs would be allotted guaranteed opportunity to testify. Other oral and written comments are also to be accepted.

Ultimately, RIDOH must follow APA rules in determining whether or to promulgate the PPR.

Per the agreement, the “Dismissal Stipulation shall be effective at the moment that RIDOH issues the notice of public comment for the PPR.”

Over 35 parent plaintiffs filed suit in September of 2021, each documenting how Rhode Island’s school mask mandates, which were based on zero scientific evidence, produced actual harm for their children. The lawsuit sought a determination that the State and RIDOH acted improperly when they imposed mask mandates on K-12 students.

As was made clear during some of the preliminary hearings that were held in 2022, that if the normal regulatory process was followed year ago, it would have been exposed that RIDOH imposed school mask mandates without any scientific basis or research data to indicate that communal-masking policies might be effective in preventing the spread of an air-born virus like Covid.

In fact, the research showed the opposite; that mask mandates were not only ineffective, but also potentially harmful, both medically and emotionally, to children. Even the Superior Court judge wrote in an earlier ruling that the plaintiff’s children did indeed suffer “irreparable harm“.

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