Rep. D’Amato represents couple seeking to take down immunization rate list

By TAYLOR MURCHISON-GALLAGHER

STAFF WRITER

State Representative Cara Pavalock-D’Amato will be representing Brian and Kristen Festa, in a lawsuit against the State of Connecticut.

D’Amato said the Festa family, who are constituents of hers in the 77th district, is working to get the Department of Public Health to take down and cease publishing the immunization rates in Connecticut schools.

The Festas had previously filed the case alone, but soon reached out to D’Amato to represent them, which the legislator said she wanted to do.

On Monday, July 15, D’Amato and the Festa’s met in court. The judge dismissed ruling on the case at the time, and the defendant filed a motion to dismiss the case due to procedural matters (the Festa family failed to file their complaint with the Department of Public Health before filing in court).

Currently, Brian and Kristen Festa are the only parents involved in the case, but there were at least 20 parents that came to the court hearing last week.

The defendant’s motion must be heard first, explained D’Amato, and then there will be a 30 day period for her and her clients to respond. There will then be a brief period for the defendants to respond.

Afterward, the case will either have a hearing or go through oral arguments, or be decided based on the information that was filed. This could take place some time in mid-August, but a date has yet to be determined.

D’Amato sits as the ranking member on the state Insurance and Real Estate Committee, and is a member of the appropriations committee and the education committee. She explained that if a bill regarding the DPH’s release of immunization records came in front of one of her committees, she would have to excuse herself. But at the moment, she is not technically in violation of an ethics code.

This, she said, is in part because D’Amato and the Festas are “arguing the release of confidential information.”

She explained the case is not arguing for or against parents choosing to vaccinate their children, and as a parent herself, said that she respects people’s opinions regarding vaccination. This case is looking at a narrow issue, said the attorney. They are not attempting to argue the validity of religious exemptions of vaccines.

Comments? Email tmurchison@BristolObserver.com.