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Court document: Gov. Lamont's ex-public health commissioner settles wrongful termination suit in federal court

A federal judge dismissed Renee Coleman Mitchell's case Friday after reporting that both sides have reached a settlement. 

News 12 Staff

Aug 25, 2023, 11:20 PM

Updated 303 days ago

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Gov. Ned Lamont's former public health commissioner, whom he fired during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, has settled a wrongful termination suit in federal court, according to a newly filed court document.
A federal judge dismissed Renee Coleman Mitchell's case Friday after reporting that both sides have reached a settlement. 
The terms of the settlement have not been disclosed. Neither Lamont's office, not DPH, responded to requests for comment.
Coleman-Mitchell was noticeably absent from press conferences when the pandemic began.
In her lawsuit, she claimed she was sidelined in favor of a white man, Lamont's Chief Operating Officer Josh Geballe, while the administration ignored her calls to lock down nursing homes.
“Plaintiff began to sound the alarm and communicated her concerns directly to Governor Ned Lamont, advising him that there was a need to move swiftly in the protection of nursing home residents, particularly the visitor restrictions, and testing staff of nursing home residents, the lawsuit alleged. "Plaintiff’s warnings were met with stiff opposition by Governor Lamont and his administration."
At the time, the governor characterized Coleman-Mitchell's dismissal as a change in direction as the state re-opened. "May 20 was always a pivot point for us,” Lamont said in May 2020. “And we knew that we were moving from simply managing the pandemic, to figuring out public health long-term as part of our re-opening strategy. And I just had to make a decision."
Lamont has consistently denied Coleman-Mitchell's allegations.
Lamont initially replaced her with Dr. Deidre Gifford, and later with current DPH commissioner Dr. Manisha Juthani.
Even before the coronavirus outbreak, Coleman-Mitchell had a rocky tenure as public health commissioner. Lamont and top lawmakers publicly clashed with her over religious exemptions for childhood vaccines, and whether to release school-by-school vaccination rates.


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