Welcome

Covid-19 Contact Tracing Is Unconstitutional, Texas Lawsuit Says

Aug. 12, 2020, 3:20 PM

A group of Texas business owners, former state legislators, and organizations filed suit in the Eastern District of Texas challenging the state’s adoption of contact tracing to track and monitor the spread of Covid-19.

Contact tracing is the method used to find and follow up with people who have been in close contact with others who test positive for Covid-19.

By tracing the contacts of Covid-19 patients, getting them into quarantine, and when necessary, testing them for infection, public health officials aim to slow the spread of coronavirus.

The plaintiffs filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas Tuesday, challenging the May 2020 award by Gov. Greg Abbott (R) of a $295 million contract for contact tracing to MTX Group Inc.

The complaint lists more than 1,300 plaintiffs, who claim the contact tracing measures violate their Fourth Amendment right to privacy, and their First Amendment right to freedom of association.

They also assert the measures violate the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, by arbitrarily and selectively interfering with some businesses.

More than 500,000 Texas residents have been diagnosed with the coronavirus and more than 9,000 Texas residents have died from it as of Aug. 11. Of the more than 5.1 million reported cases in the U.S., more than 164,000 people have died.

Cause of Action: 42 U.S.C. Section 1983, First Amendment right to freedom of association, Fourth Amendment right to privacy, equal protection, due process.

Relief: Injunctive relief, attorneys’ fees and costs.

Response: The governor’s office didn’t immediately respond to request for comment.

Attorneys: Woodfill Law Firm PC represents the plaintiffs.

The case is Hotze v. Abbott, E.D. Tex., No. 20-cv-00345, 8/11/20.

To contact the reporter on this story: Peter Hayes in Washington at PHayes@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Rob Tricchinelli at rtricchinelli@bloomberglaw.com

To read more articles log in.

Learn more about a Bloomberg Law subscription.