Families sue NYC in response to measles emergency order

Posted: Updated:

A Manhattan attorney has filed a lawsuit against the city for its order to keep unvaccinated children out of schools.

The suit comes as a response to the measles outbreak, which is mostly affecting the Orthodox Jewish communities in Borough Park and Williamsburg.

Robert Krakow is representing a group of parents and is trying to stop the actions taken by the Department of Health in response to the outbreak. Krakow says it infringes on the religious rights of his clients.

Krakow says he started getting calls from Orthodox Jewish families in the fall when many of their children were being kept from school because they were not vaccinated.

Since then, there have been 329 measles cases reported, primarily in Brooklyn, with 44 new cases reported since last week. Thirty-nine of those cases are in Williamsburg.

After the Health Department issued the order last Tuesday, Krakow's clients decided to act and filed the lawsuit Monday.

Krakow is representing five families, three of which are from the Orthodox Jewish community in Williamsburg. The two other families are of other faiths, but the mindset is the same. These families believe they should be the ones deciding what goes into their children's bodies.

"I'm not saying there's not a concern, but is there really an emergency?" says Krakow. "They're overriding sincere religious beliefs that have been recognized. I don't think that's right, I don't think it's necessary."

A New York City law spokesman said in part, "We are in the midst of an epidemic that was preventable. Our attempts at education and persuasion have failed to stop the spread of measles. We had to take this additional action to fulfill our obligation to ensure that individuals do not continue to put the health of others at risk."

Both parties will be back in court Thursday morning and Krakow says he hopes the judge will make a decision soon.

The Health Department will have a meeting to discuss the order Wednesday.

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