Five members of the NYPD, including three from the Bomb Squad, are pursuing a $75 million lawsuit against the city, asserting that their careers were unjustly terminated due to the COVID-19 vaccine mandate.
Despite their extensive experience, these officers claim to have suffered significant losses, including the denial of a “full pension with annual interest and health benefits” after being dismissed in 2022 for refusing vaccination.
The officers involved in the lawsuit are Detectives Paul McCartney, a 17-year veteran and US Marine; Jean Pierre Sylvestre, a 20-year NYPD veteran and US Marine veteran; Joseph Trancho, an 18-year veteran; Sgt. Craig Collopy, with 27 years of service; and Lt. Christopher Eckert, who also served for 20 years. McCartney and Eckert were associated with the NYPD’s Emergency Services Unit when they declined vaccination.
While the city lifted the vaccine mandate for employees in February, these five officers have not sought reinstatement. The vaccine mandate faced widespread criticism for its perceived unfairness, leading to numerous legal challenges. Approximately 1,780 workers were terminated for refusing vaccination.
In their lawsuit filed in Brooklyn Federal Court against the city, Mayor Adams, and former city Health Commissioner Dave Chokshi, the officers argue that they suffered disproportionately for resisting mandatory vaccination, especially when certain exemptions, such as the one granted to unvaccinated NBA player Kyrie Irving, were introduced. The officers claim that the vaccine’s alleged ineffectiveness in preventing virus transmission became apparent, undermining the justification for their dismissals.
Attorney Chad Levaglia, representing the officers, highlighted the unique aspect of this lawsuit, stating, “The biggest and most important difference between this lawsuit and any others is we’re directly challenging the efficacy of this vaccine, we’re saying, ‘This didn’t work and you knew it, Adams.'”
Detective Joseph Trancho, who served in the unit for 18 years and was one of the few K9 officers, is among the officers challenging the mandate. The officers argue that the vaccine mandate was not only unjust but also ineffective, a claim that clashes with the city Health Department’s assertion that the vaccination campaign prevented tens of thousands of deaths and significantly reduced hospitalizations and COVID-19 cases.
In response to the lawsuit, a Law Department spokesman stated, “Courts have repeatedly upheld the city’s vaccine mandate as lawful. We’ll review the specifics of this case once served.” The legal battle underscores the ongoing controversies surrounding vaccine mandates and their implications for public servants.