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New Jersey Governor Facing Lawsuit From Nurse Quarantined During Ebola Scare

Nurse Kaci Hickox speaks to the media last year outside her home in Fort Kent, Maine. Hickox, who sharply protested being quarantined at a New Jersey hospital in 2014 after she returned from treating Ebola patients in West Africa, has filed a lawsuit against the state of New Jersey.
Robert F. Bukaty

Updated 5:08 p.m. ET

Nearly one year after Kaci Hickox was quarantined in New Jersey upon her return from treating Ebola patients in Sierra Leone, she is suing Gov. Chris Christie and state health department officials. She says they unlawfully detained her.

Represented by the ACLU of New Jersey and two New York law firms, Hickox claims that she was held against her will for three days, even after she tested negative for Ebola.

"I never had Ebola. I never had symptoms of Ebola. I tested negative for Ebola the first night I stayed in New Jersey governor Chris Christie's private prison," Hickox said, according to a statement released by her attorneys. "My liberty, my interests and consequently my civil rights were ignored because some ambitious governors saw an opportunity to use an age-old political tactic: fear."

Hickox returned to the United States on Oct. 24, 2014. She was first held at the airport in Newark before being moved to the University Hospital in Newark, where she was quarantined in a tent for two days. She was allowed to return to her home in Maine on Oct. 27, 2014.

The statement said that Hickox was "held in a field tent in an unheated parking garage at University Hospital in Newark. She had access to a portable toilet but not a shower, and had to ask for extra blankets."

According to the Associated Press, Hickox is seeking at least $250,000 in compensatory and punitive damages.

NPR's Hansi Lo Wang reported for the Newscast unit that the governor's office declined to comment on the lawsuit, but it did highlight a quote from Christie last year. In response to a question about possible legal action stemming from the quarantine, he said: "I've been sued lots of times before. Get in line."

As we reported at the time, the quarantine was a controversial policy from the beginning:

"Gov. Chris Christie says that a new rule requiring a 21-day quarantine for people who've been in contact with Ebola patients is necessary to protect the public in New Jersey and other states — and that the CDC 'eventually will come around to our point of view on this.'

"Dr. Anthony Fauci, leader of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, disagrees, saying the quarantine could hamper efforts to combat the deadly outbreak in West Africa.

"Saying the CDC's protocols "have been a moving target," Christie tells Fox News Sunday that the quarantine makes sense in a densely populated state such as New Jersey.

"But Fauci disagreed, saying that there are other options besides a plan that he called 'a little bit draconian' in an interview on Meet the Press .

"'The best way to protect us is to stop the epidemic in Africa, and we need those health care workers so we do not want to put them in a position where it makes it very, very uncomfortable for them to even volunteer to go,' Fauci says, according to the AP."

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