NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Tennessee’s former top vaccine official has settled a lawsuit against two high-ranking individuals from the Tennessee Department of Health (TDH), but it still needs to be approved by state officials.
Dr. Michelle Fiscus, who faced scrutiny from Republican state lawmakers over her department’s outreach efforts to promote COVID-19 vaccinations among young people, was fired on July 12, 2021.
Then, on July 15, 2021, Dr. Lisa Piercey — who was the TDH commissioner at the time — and Chief Medical Officer Dr. Tim Jones allegedly released a letter, which was dated three days before Fiscus’ termination.
The letter reportedly outlined reasons for firing Fiscus, but according to her lawsuit, the letter was defamatory.
In addition, Fiscus claimed she wasn’t made aware of the letter’s contents and wasn’t given a chance to defend herself.
The lawsuit also mentioned controversy surrounding a muzzle sent to Fiscus anonymously in the mail before she was fired. There were claims Fiscus sent the muzzle to herself, but they weren’t true.
The lawsuit alleged the state’s investigation was “inadequate” and the report “omitted several key facts,” including the fact that the credit card used to buy it had been canceled for over a year.
On Wednesday, April 19 — more than 19 months after Fiscus’ lawsuit was filed against the state’s top health officials — a notice of settlement was filed in the Nashville division of the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee.
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That notice stated, in part, “Defendants Commissioner Lisa Piercey, M.D., MBA, FAAP and Chief Medical Officer Tim Jones, M.D. provide notice that the parties attended mediation as ordered by the Court and have reached a settlement that is contingent upon written approval of State officials. The parties will work diligently to finalize the proposed settlement agreement and then route it for approval. The parties will need the time necessary to obtain approval of State officials before the settlement can be completed and dismissal entered.”
However, according to a note in the court documents, Dr. Ralph Alvarado, the current TDH commissioner, has been automatically substituted for Piercey as defendant in the official capacity claim.
No additional details have been released about the terms of the settlement.