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Judge Sticks It To ABC: ‘General Hospital’ Crew Members’ Vaccine Mandate Suit Heads To Trial

ABC and Disney might be feeling a little under the weather right now.

The network and Mouse House owners have lost their attempt to dismiss a discrimination suit by two General Hospital crew members over Covid-19 vaccine mandates. Now, the religious discrimination action will go to trial unless ABC wants to make a deal to make it all go away.

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Unlike ex-GH actor Ingo Rademacher in his own now tossed vaccine mandate suit, father and son James Wahl and Tim Wahl “cooperated” with the soap opera and the network on establishing their “genuine” Christian “religious beliefs” and desired exemptions from getting the then-mandated vaccines.

Of course, cooperation or not, ABC and GH still canned the duo when they refused to abide by the protocols and get the jab. The network told the Wahls that it was  “unable to conclude that you are prevented from receiving the Covid-19 vaccine due to a sincerely-held religious belief, practice, or observance.”

While not common, such refusals occurred on several shows and projects with more than a handful of those objecting during the pandemic return-to-work months. In particular, ABC seems to have stumbled more than once in deftly handling religious objections, as the Wahls’ case and possible workarounds that were rejected makes clear-ish.

Which means, this week’s decision, even though LA Superior Court Judge Stephen Goorvitch did agree with ABC to jettison an invasion of privacy claim, will see the GH VFX department members get their wish and have a jury make the final judgement on their faith, so to speak.

“Because this necessarily involves a credibility determination, it is difficult to grant summary adjudication of this issue,” wrote Judge Goorvitch in a February 20 minute order. “While defendant’s counsel identifies seeming inconsistencies, plaintiffs raise sufficient facts to give rise to a triable issue, viz., their explanations of their religious beliefs,” he added.

“The jury, not the judge, should determine whether plaintiffs were genuine in their beliefs, given the disputed facts and the necessity of making credibility determinations.”

READ THE ORDER REJECTING ABC’S MOTIONS TO DISMISS THE GENERAL HOSPITAL CREW MEMBERS’ VACCINE MANDATE LAWSUIT HERE

Fired by ABC and GH in late 2021, the Wahls initially sued for religious and disability discrimination, retaliation and more in June 2022. As the case moved through the backlogged courts, the family members dropped the disability, wrongful termination, and retaliation claims.

Disney and ABC did not respond to request for comment on the decision when contacted by Deadline. If and when they do, we will update this post. On the other hand, the Wahls’ main lawyer was very vocal today.

“As many people move beyond the pandemic, this ruling should serve as a reminder of the thousands of people who lost their careers because they asserted their rights and stood up to their employers’ efforts to make them violate their conscience,” Scott Street told Deadline. “The pandemic won’t be over until every corporation that violated its employees’ rights has been held accountable. We look forward to presenting this case to a jury soon.”

A trial setting conference has been set for March 11 in DTLA.

One more thing, if you have this odd feeling you’ve heard this before – you kinda have.

Street was Rademacher’s attorney in the fired actor’s unsuccessful vaccine suit. Adding to the mix, Judge Goorvitch was the LASC judge in that case, too. It was a case he dismissed in June 2023, about a year after the Wahls filed their still ongoing case.

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