The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) will pay $1.8 million in attorney’s fees to Liberty Counsel, a Florida law firm, for representing thousands of service members whose requests for religious exemptions from the military’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate were denied.
This settlement comes after two years of litigation in two class action suits. Liberty Counsel filed these suits and obtained numerous restraining orders and injunctions. The lawsuits were ultimately dismissed in May after Congress ended the COVID-19 vaccine mandate for U.S. military forces in December 2022, giving the military 30 days to rescind the mandate.
The settlement is unique in that the judge declared the cases moot due to the military branches rescinding their mandates. The founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel, Mat Staver, emphasized that the military COVID shot mandate is now defunct, and service members can no longer be compelled to take the experimental vaccine against their religious beliefs.
He also pointed out that some high-ranking members of leadership in the Pentagon and the Biden administration should be replaced, as they dishonored the brave individuals defending freedom. Staver shared that a senior military officer noted they were prepared to fight external enemies, not to label their own military as an adversary.
Court documents from the cases revealed shocking evidence of abuse, intimidation, and retaliation against service members. Tragically, two service members took their own lives, and many who declined the vaccine were discharged.
One poignant case highlighted Lieutenant Colonel Peter Chambers, an esteemed medical flight surgeon with a Purple Heart, who was compelled to retire after being injured by the COVID-19 shot. Staver’s firm is assisting attorneys in the military to help service members recover their losses, but due to the individualized nature of each case, they couldn’t be consolidated into a class action suit.
Additionally, they are working with Congress to pass an act providing compensation for these service members, but progress has been stalled in the Democrat-controlled Senate. Over 1.4 million service members were mandated to receive the vaccine, with many experiencing side effects such as heart problems.
As of October 2022, only 19,460 service members remained unvaccinated.