Parent's losing lawsuit shines light on PREP Act and COVID-19 shots

Parent's losing lawsuit shines light on PREP Act and COVID-19 shots

Parent's losing lawsuit shines light on PREP Act and COVID-19 shots

A parent’s unsuccessful lawsuit against the North Carolina public school that vaccinated her son without her approval is nonetheless letting other parents know what can happen to their own children.

Emily Happel, the mother of Tanner Smith, sued Guilford County Schools in 2022 after her son was given the COVID-19 shot during a clinic visit to test him for the virus.

A trial judge dismissed the case, Happel v Guilford County Board of Education, in 2023. A state appeals court then ruled against the parents and teenager last month in a decision that called the forced vaccination “egregious.”  

Smith, who was 14 in 2021, was ordered by Western Guilford High to get tested for the virus because other football players were testing positive, so he needed a negative test to play.

Smith’s stepfather, Brett Happel, waited outside the clinic and only learned afterward his stepson had been given the experimental shot even after he protested.

“This is a shocking story of abuse under cover of health care,” attorney Roger Severino, a Heritage Foundation civil liberties expert, tells AFN.  

"The parents sued and they lost,” Severino says of the lawsuit. “They lost on every single count, and the administrators of the COVID shot were completely immune from battery, from abuse, from invasion of parental rights."

The reason the lawsuit lost in court, Severino explains, is because of a 2005 federal law. That law is the PREP Act, or Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act, which provides immunity for legal liability during a public health emergency.

Severino, Roger (Ethics and Public Policy Center) Severino

Under the law the only exception is death or serious injury caused by willful misconduct, so Severino says the teen’s vaccination is an abuse of power that is covered by a federal law.  

According to The Carolina Journal, the parents filed a petition April 5 asking the North Carolina Supreme Court to take up their case. In the petition, attorneys for the family similarly argue the courts the ruled that against the defendants interpreted the PREP Act so broadly “as to shield nearly every act, no matter how egregious, for any legal consequence.”

After the petition was filed, eight state lawmakers – all Republicans – signed their names to a friend-of-the-court brief asking the supreme court to take up the case, the Journal reported.