Gov. Kate Brown thanks workers drawing up COVID-19 vaccines as she tours a drive-thru vaccination clinic at Portland International Airport, April 9, 2021. Now a lawsuit seeks to overturn the governor's vaccine mandate.

Gov. Kate Brown thanks workers drawing up COVID-19 vaccines as she tours a drive-thru vaccination clinic at Portland International Airport, April 9, 2021. Now a lawsuit seeks to overturn the governor's vaccine mandate.

Kristyna Wentz-Graff/ OPB

More than two dozen health care workers and firefighters throughout Oregon have filed a pair of new lawsuits this week seeking to overturn Gov. Kate Brown’s vaccine mandate.

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The two lawsuits filed in Yamhill and Klamath counties join a chorus of legal action brought by first-responders and health care workers after Brown issued the orders back in August that all health care workers and state executive branch employees — including public safety officers — must be vaccinated by Oct. 18 or six weeks after full FDA approval, which came on Aug. 23.

The legal challenge is led by Portland attorney Dan Thenell, who is also working on behalf of Oregon State Police employees who filed a similar lawsuit earlier this month. Thenell was not immediately available to respond to a request for comment.

The lawsuits request that circuit court judges in the two counties declare Brown’s orders “unenforceable,” claiming that Oregon statute prohibits immunization as a condition of work unless authorized by federal or state law.

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“The Oregon Legislature has enacted no law authorizing vaccinations of workers,” the lawsuits say.

Similar legal challenges were filed in Washington this week seeking to overturn vaccine mandates ordered by Gov. Jay Inslee.

Two groups registered as nonprofit organizations with the Oregon Secretary of State’s office are listed as plaintiffs on the lawsuits: Mandate Free Oregon and Oregon health care Workers for Medical Freedom.

The court filings claim that health care Workers for Medical Freedom is a group that represents more than 1,000 health care workers statewide.

Other plaintiffs listed on the two legal challenges include Vernonia Fire Chief Earl Dean Smith, three firefighters with Tualatin Valley Fire and Rescue, a city of Portland firefighter and an employee of the Portland Fire Marshal’s office.

A respiratory care practitioner at Oregon Health and Science University, a nurse at Legacy Mt. Hood Medical Center in Gresham and a nurse at St. Charles Medical Center in Bend are also listed as plaintiffs in one of the suits.

Gov. Kate Brown’s office declined to comment on the pending litigation Friday.

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