United States News Guam Court denies DPHSS request for reconsideration on quarantine lawsuit

Court denies DPHSS request for reconsideration on quarantine lawsuit

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The government of Guam and the Department of Public Health and Social Services lost their case, which claimed a Superior Court of Guam judge committed a clear error when she first started granting arriving passengers’ requests to be transferred from the government quarantine facility to home quarantine last month.

The case began in September with Dededo resident Eugene Igros and his children, ages 13 and 8.

The court ruled then that DPHSS should not leave travelers in the dark about their right to petition the court if they feel they’re being held in quarantine against their will. Although travelers were asked to sign voluntary quarantine forms, the quarantine is anything but, according to Judge Elyze McDonald Iriarte.

The Attorney General’s Office, which represents Public Health, asked the court to reconsider the ruling.

On Thursday, Iriarte denied that request.

The government contended that the court erred in deciding the issue of voluntary quarantine and in ruling that the Igroses did not enter into voluntary quarantine. The government also contends criminal case law should be considered in examining voluntariness, and that the court has reversed its position on voluntary quarantine.

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Judge Iriarte stated that DPHSS misconstrued her decision, as she never ruled isolation and quarantine regulations were invalid or implicitly repealed. “Moreover, the record demonstrates that the Court did not act out of thin air or on its own volition. (DPHSS) knew that the Igroses’ lack of consent and the statutory authority applicable to their quarantine were both at issue. … The Igroses also specifically alleged that they were forced to sign a voluntary quarantine form for mandatory quarantine at a government facility. Petitioners’ quarantine at a government facility is not voluntary,” the judge stated.

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The court also noted that DPHSS simply failed to meet the burden of proving what voluntary quarantine meant in this instance.

As to the government’s argument that the court’s findings represent a reversal of a previous approval of voluntary consents obtained from travelers in March and April, the judge stated, “This argument borders on bad faith,” adding that DPHSS did not utilize the voluntary quarantine procedures.

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