Judge dismisses case that could affect her husband's employer

A federal judge in California has dismissed a lawsuit challenging Joe Biden’s COVID-19 vaccination mandates even though she admits that her husband is employed by and owns thousands of dollars of stock in a company that supports both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine projects, creating what appears to be a conflict of interest.

According to court documents, the ruling came from Cathy Bencivengo, who had dismissed out of hand a complaint filed by attorney Gary Kreep on behalf of plaintiff Corazon de Cristo Cano and others.

The judge had been asked the excuse herself from the case, over her obvious personal financial interest that could be affected, and she refused.

The issue is that Bencivengo’s husband works for and owns pieces of Thermo Fisher.

She was asked to disqualify herself “in the face of facts indicating conflicts of interest,” a court filing explained. “Specifically, Judge Bencivengo owns between $50,000 to $100,00 in stock in Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc … A true and correct copy of Judge Bencivengo’s 2020 Financial Disclosures is attached hereto…”

The filing explained the company “is the world leader in serving science, with annual revenue of approximately $40 billion. More specifically, Thermo Fisher created their own COVID-19 response department, which states that ‘when scientists, governments and healthcare workers around the world rallied together to fight the COVID-19 virus we knew we needed to be by their sides … from developing one of the first COVID-19 tests to partnering to bring vaccines to the world … Thermo Fisher has been committed to supporting government, industry and academia in the accelerated developing and production of COVID-19 vaccines … and are currently supporting more than 250 vaccine and therapy projects for our biopharma customers, including Pfizer and Moderna.”

That creates a conflict, the filing said, since the case seeks “to enjoin the forced vaccination and testing of federal employees and federal contractor employees.”

It explained, “Were this court to grant plaintiffs’ requests, Thermo Fisher could suffer a significant decline in a source of revenue received through the government contracts that it has due to the federal vaccine mandates and through the accompanying required testing of federal employees and federal contractor employees. This decline in income could significantly impact the value of Her Honor’s stock holdings, and, possibly, impact her husband’s employment.”

The filing charged “there is a financial connection between Judge Bencivengo and the defendants. The financial interests of Judge Bencivengo and her spouse could be substantially affected by the outcome of these proceedings, which creates a conflict of interest.”

The judge’s response only took hours.

“Thermo Fisher Scientific, Inc., is not a party to this lawsuit,” she charged. “Nor was Thermo Fisher mentioned in the complaint or any of the briefing related to the application for a temporary restraining order filed by plaintiffs (which the court denied).”

She continued, “Plaintiffs now move to disqualify the undersigned because her spouse is employed by Thermo Fisher and owns stock in the company. The motion is denied.”

She admitted that a judge should recuse when “He knows that he, individually, or as a fiduciary, or his spouse or minor child residing in his household, has a financial interest in the subject matter in controversy or is a party to the proceeding, or any other interest that could be substantially affected by the outcome of the proceeding.”

Or, she conceded, if it “is known by the judge to have an interest that could be substantially affected by the outcome of the proceeding.”

But she claimed, “The stock ownership of the undersigned and her spouse in Thermo Fisher is not a financial interest in a party to this case.”

Further, her husband’s employment by Thermo Fisher, or her stock ownership, does not constitute a “financial interest in this controversy.”

She also claimed she was “not persuaded by plaintiffs’ motion that a reasonable person with knowledge of the employment of the undersigned’s spouse by Thermo Fisher and stock holdings in the company would question the undersigned’s impartiality as to questions raised by this case.”

A report from LAW360 Pulse said she had dismissed the case immediately when it appeared. And the report noted that during 2021, “products related to the pandemic contributed 23% of the company’s total sales,” with the price per share of the company rising nearly $200 per share in that time frame.

Kreep explained, “Because it impacts her and her husband’s income and their ownership interest in the company, she’s required to recuse herself. She declined to do that. She should have recused herself, the law is very clear.”

The case originally represented more than 100 workers who challenged executive orders that they be vaccinated or lose their jobs. They charged Biden was violating their rights to due process, bodily autonomy and free exercise of religion.

Bencinvengo rejected their request for a temporary restraining order and immediately dismissed the case.

Kreep said the judge’s ruling might not be the last word.

“We’re going to appeal her ruling, and part of it’s going to be on the basis that she never should have heard the case,’ he said.

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