Buchanan dismisses lawsuit against school board
TORRINGTON – A lawsuit filed by several parents of students who attended Goshen County School District No. 1 in 2021 has been dismissed in the District Court of the Eighth Judicial District for Goshen County.
District Judge Edward Buchanan granted the defendant’s motion to dismiss on the basis the court had no subject matter jurisdiction or ability to grant injunctive relief to the plaintiffs in the case.
In the order granting the dismissal, Buchanan wrote, “This case concerns a parental lawsuit, on behalf of themselves and their children and other similarly situated persons, against the Goshen County School District (‘GCSD’), Board of Trustees, and School Superintendent, Mr. Ryan Kramer (hereinafter collectively referred to as ‘Defendants’), for requiring and enforcing a mask mandate and quarantine protocols for “close contact” to COVID-19.”
The plaintiffs, represented by Cassie Craven, were Drew and Danielle Murphy, Brandon and Marie Flanagan, Ty and Kelly Correll, Shanna Vargas, Kristy Green, Rebecca Cochran, Ashley and Reece Posten, Suzanne Keller and Belinda and Chris Alexander.
The defendants, represented by Scott Kolpitcke, were Goshen County School District No. 1, Goshen County School District No. 1 Board of Trustees and Ryan Kramer.
In the concluding statement of the order, Buchanan wrote, “Based upon the foregoing standard of review, relevant law and the facts presented, the Court hereby grants Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss for the reasons stated above. There is no doubt as to the genuineness of the concerns expressed by the Plaintiffs. This decision is not an opinion on the existence or non-existence of soundness or logic pertaining to masking or quarantine protocols implemented by the Goshen County School District. Simply this decision is based on legal principles that deprive this court of subject matter jurisdiction and the ability to grant injunctive relief.”
According to Black’s Law Dictionary, subject matter jurisdiction is “jurisdiction over the nature of the case and the type of relief sought; the extent to which a court can rule on the conduct of persons or the status of things.”
Craven, on behalf of the plaintiffs, filed a petition against the defendants in March of 2022.
The relief sought, according to the petition filed by Craven, was “a temporary restraining order and/or preliminary injunction, followed by a permanent injunction, restraining, and enjoining the Defendants, their officers, agents, employees, attorneys and successors in office, and all other persons in active concert or participation with them, from enforcing, threatening to enforce, attempting to enforce, or otherwise requiring medical decision making compliance in contravention of student and parent consented decisions with regard to any requirement of utilization of the mask medical device and to also end the illegal quarantining of students by the District who has no legal authority to do so, in addition to declaratory judgment or alternatively a judicial review as to the legality and constitutionality of the aforementioned actions of the Defendants against the Plaintiffs and those similarly situated as described above and under the case law and constitutional authority cited. Plaintiffs also request such other further relief as the Court deems equitable and just under the circumstances the premises considered.”
During the hearing to consider the motion to dismiss, Kolpitcke argued the court lacked subject matter jurisdiction as there were no mandates in effect or quarantine protocols in effect in the Goshen County School District at the current time or the time of filing.
Craven maintained what the school district had done was a violation of constitutional rights. Additionally, Craven said it remains unclear throughout Wyoming and other United States courts whether a mask is a medical device.
Prior to the conclusion of the hearing, Buchanan asked Kolpitcke whether dismissal in this case could preclude further inquiry if these issues were to reappear. Kolpitcke agreed further inquiry could be pursued if the issues mentioned were to reappear.