FORT KENT, Maine — A former Maine nurse who was quarantined in New Jersey upon her return to the U.S. from Africa, where she was treating patients diagnosed with the Ebola virus during a deadly outbreak in 2014, is close to settling a lawsuit against the state’s governor, according to a letter filed by a defense attorney.
Kaci Hickox sued New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and several state public health officials last October, claiming she was held illegally and unconstitutionally against her will as part of a mandatory quarantine for anyone returning from certain West African countries who treated patients with Ebola. The complaint also said Christie made false statements about Hickox’s health and implied she had symptoms of Ebola. Hickox has said Christie’s decision to quarantine her was based on fear, not science, and was politically motivated.
On June 1, an attorney representing Christie filed a letter notifying District Court Judge James Clark that they had reached a settlement “in principle” with Hickox. The attorneys requested “a couple weeks” to iron out the details of deal.
Hickox sought a minimum of $250,000 in compensatory and punitive damages, according to previous reports, along with legal fees and costs.
The letter didn’t include any details about the terms of the possible settlement. A message left Monday morning for Hickox’s attorney, Edward Barocas of the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey, was not immediately returned.
Hickox volunteered to treat patients suffering from Ebola in Sierra Leone as part of Doctors Without Borders during the 2014 outbreak and was later honored with other health care professionals as Time Magazine’s 2014 “Person of the Year.”
She returned stateside and landed at Newark Liberty International Airport on Oct. 24, 2014, and was in quarantine for 80 hours at the airport and in a modified garage at the University Hospital in Newark.
After leaving quarantine following a negative test for Ebola, she returned to Fort Kent, where she lived with her boyfriend. Maine Gov. Paul LePage and the Maine Department of Health and Human Services attempted through a proposed court order to prevent Hickox from entering public places and tried unsuccessfully to confine her to her Fort Kent home for 21 days.
The case drew national media attention to the northern Maine town. The saga reached a fever pitch when Hickox and her boyfriend left their home and went for a defiant bicycle ride in the neighborhood. They later said that outing was an act of civil disobedience. Hickox has since moved to Oregon.
Watch bangordailynews.com for updates.
Bangor Daily News writer Judy Harrison contributed to this report.
Follow Nick McCrea on Twitter at @nmccrea213.