RALEIGH — Guilford County mother Emil Happel has filed a motion with the N.C. Court of Appeals over her lawsuit that alleges her son was forced to get a COVID-19 vaccination without the written parental consent required by law at that time.
Happel filed the lawsuit against the Guilford school board and Old North State Medical Society in 2022, however, this past March a trial judge dismissed the case.
The new brief was filed by attorney Steven Walker on behalf of Happel. The filing cites five instances where the trial court erred in its decision to dismiss the case including dismissing the plaintiff’s state constitutional violation claims and ruling the district and the Old North State Medical Society were immune from liability.
“The clinic workers were present at the vaccine clinic to carry on and further the business of the partnership that had been formed by defendants,” states the brief in addressing one of the liability issues. “They were there to administer vaccines. The scope of their employment was to administer vaccines. When they administered the vaccine to Tanner, they were doing so in furtherance of their employer’s business and within the scope of their employment. That they did so without consent does not move them outside the scope of their employment.”
Happel’s lawsuit contends that her 14-year-old son Tanner was given the COVID-19 vaccination without written parental consent. At the time Tanner was inoculated, North Carolina law stated that written parental consent was required for administering the vaccine to minors.
At that time her son was vaccinated, Tanner was playing football for Western Guilford High School and the district sent a letter to them indicating he was required to get a COVID-19 test after it was determined some of the other players had been exposed to the virus. The letter directed the family to a clinic being held at Northwest Guilford High School run by Old North State Medical Society “in partnership” with Guilford County Public Schools.
The brief says the judge erred in his ruling that the school board was immune from liability because a third party ran the clinic.
In a 2021 interview with Happel, she told North State Journal that the clinic staff did not ask for the letter from the school directing a test and not a vaccination that clearly stated that minors under the age of 17 must have written parental consent to receive the vaccine.
“The facts as stated in the complaint make it clear that Tanner went to the clinic at the direction of Guilford County Schools, and when he ended up in a vaccine clinic, it was a clinic that was operated with two partners — the defendants,” the brief states.
In a 2021 interview with North State Journal, Happel said her son was asked to fill out a form which she admitted he did not fully read but that the clinic staff asked for his parent’s phone number. Happel said she missed the call and that she called back within minutes but no one picked up.
“My son told me that the lady who was helping him said they had tried to call his mother, but that she didn’t answer and said, ‘Let’s just give it to him anyway.’ I still had no idea that he was going to be getting a vaccine; I was still waiting for a test,” Happel told North State Journal. She added that the clinic staff member then brought him a shot which he rejected but “before he knew it, he had the shot in his arm.”
“He came home. He handed me the card and I lost my mind,” Happel said.
When she finally connected with a school administrator, the official dismissed Happel’s concerns and acted like it was “not a big deal.” The school officials compared it to her son getting an HIV test without parental consent, according to Happel.
Happel said she was “irate with this man,” and the official “completely downplayed my feelings for what happened and that has pretty much been the end of it.”
When North State Journal reached out to Guilford County Schools, the district’s media relations specialist, Janson Silvers, said he was not aware of any other incidents and that “direct patient-doctor interactions” inquiries should be directed to Old North State Medical Society.
Additional inquiries on the matter directed to Old North State Medical Society went unanswered.