Defense Department pays $1.8 million to end lawsuit over COVID-19 vaccine mandate

iStock/Kiyoshi Tanno
iStock/Kiyoshi Tanno

The United States Department of Defense has agreed to pay $1.8 million in fees and other litigation costs to end a lawsuit filed against their now rescinded COVID-19 vaccine mandate.

A group of U.S. Navy Seals and others in the military filed suit against the Defense Department for issuing of a COVID-19 injection mandate in 2021, with plaintiffs arguing that the requirement ran afoul of their religious freedom.  

In a fee settlement agreement on Tuesday, the Defense Department agreed to pay $900,000 in costs incurred by the case Navy Seal 1 v. Biden and another $900,000 incurred by the case Colonel Financial Management Officer v. Austin.

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“Defendants shall make best efforts to effectuate payment within 21 days of the later of the Effective Date of this Agreement or the date when Plaintiffs provide Defendants with correct payment processing information, whichever date is later,” noted the agreement.

Mat Staver, the founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel, which helped to represent the military personnel suing the Defense Department, celebrated the agreement in a statement released Wednesday.

“The military COVID shot mandate is dead. Our heroic service members can no longer be forced to take this experimental jab that conflicts with their religious convictions,” stated Staver.

“Through our daily work with service members in every branch, we have had the privilege of knowing some of the finest people who love God and love America. These heroes should not have been mistreated by our own government.”

Staver went on to argue that “we have come to realize that many of the high-ranking members of leadership, the Pentagon, and the Biden administration need to be replaced.”

“Collectively, they dishonored the brave men and women who defend our freedom. We stand ready to defend our defenders of freedom if any religious discrimination occurs in the future,” he added.

In August 2021, the Pentagon announced that it would require U.S. military personnel to receive the COVID-19 injections, citing as justification the need for combat readiness.

“Now that the Pfizer vaccine has been approved, the department is prepared to issue updated guidance, requiring all service members to be vaccinated,” stated Pentagon Press Secretary John F. Kirby at the time.

“These efforts ensure the safety of our service members and promote the readiness of our force, not to mention the health and safety of the communities around the country in which we live.”

Although the vast majority of armed forces personnel agreed to be vaccinated, thousands objected on religious grounds to receiving a vaccine that had been developed through research that used aborted fetal cells.

Multiple complaints were filed against the Defense Department and the Biden administration over the mandate, with many arguing that the military had failed to provide an adequate exemption process for those morally opposed to the vaccine.

In January, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin announced that the COVID-19 vaccine mandate was being rescinded, noting that around 96% of military personnel were fully vaccinated.

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