A child behavior services center in Saucier admitted a teen girl was given HPV vaccine against her mother’s wishes, but said it shouldn’t be held liable for a mistake in judgment.
In July, a mother filed a federal lawsuit against a Canopy Children’s Solutions, saying the center forcibly vaccinated her daughter against HPV, a sexually transmitted virus that can cause cancer.
The then-15-year-old girl, a native of New York, ended up at the center, the former Mississippi Children’s Home Services, for inpatient psychiatry treatment.
The mother said she specifically refused to provide consent for her daughter to be injected with the HPV vaccine because of its associated side effects. The mother’s refusal was noted in her daughter’s medical records by a nurse, according to the lawsuit.
Last week, Canopy responded to the lawsuit in court, admitting the girl received the HPV vaccine, but said there was no physical force used.
“While defendants maintain that defendants’ employees exercised medically proper judgment in their treatment of B.L.G., Defendants state that they cannot be found liable for acceptable and/or honest mistakes in judgment,” Canopy said in its answer to the lawsuit.
In court papers, Canopy’s attorney, Michael McCabe Jr., said the teen initially refused to attend the scheduled vaccination appointment, but subsequently changed her mind. The center’s response said the teen girl was administered the HPV vaccine by a nurse employed by state Department of Health.
The center refutes the lawsuit’s allegations that the girl was forcibly given the vaccine.
“Defendants deny the remaining factually inaccurate and libelous statements contained in paragraph 15 of the complaint and further state that B.L.G. was never
verbally threatened, physically assaulted, or coerced into receiving the HPV vaccine,” Canopy’s response states.
Gulfport attorney David Harris Jr., who filed the lawsuit on behalf of the mother and daughter, said the lawsuit isn’t about the human papillomavirus vaccine debate.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the HPV vaccine is safe and effective.
It is recommended for all boys and girls ages 11 and 12. Catch-up vaccines are recommended for males through age 21 and females through age 26.
“What concerns me the most is the wishes of the patient and mother were overlooked and completely disregarded,” Harris said.
During the admission process on Feb. 2, the teen’s mother was requested to provide consent for her daughter to receive immunization injections, but she refused the request, according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit says the center’s notice of rights says a person has the right to refuse care, including medication use, to the extent of the law.
In March, 43 days after admission to the center, the case manager demanded the girl be vaccinated, although the girl informed staff she wasn’t to receive the injection, the lawsuit says.
It also says the case manager insisted and said the girl wouldn’t be allowed to otherwise see her family that upcoming weekend, and the girl became distraught and upset by the threat, physically resisting efforts to be taken by van to the Health Department to receive the vaccination.
“B.L.G. was crying, screaming, and physically resisting the staff of the defendants for two hours,” the lawsuit says. “B.L.G. requested that her mother be contacted to confirm that B.L.G. was not to receive such treatment.”
Based on information and belief, no attempt was made to contact the mother, according to the lawsuit.
“Ultimately, the defendants wore down the will and ability of B.L.G. to resist, and defendants’ staff forcibly placed B.L.G. in a van and transported her to the Harrison County Health Department,” the lawsuit says.
“The defendants’ staff then forcibly caused B.L.G. to be injected with Gardasil 9, a human papillomavirus drug, against her consent, against the consent of her mother and guardian, against the Notice of Rights provided at the time of admission, and against Mississippi law.”
The lawsuit said the defendants misled the Harrison County Health Department by saying the girl and her mother consented.
The lawsuit is alleging assault and battery, negligence and breach of standard of care, violation of the Mississippi Vulnerable Person Act and failure to supervise.
Compensatory and punitive damages are also being sought, but the lawsuit doesn’t specify an amount.