Man sues Vigo Health over Facebook ban

A Vigo County man and the ACLU of Indiana are alleging the Vigo County Health Department violated the man’s First Amendment right to free speech after the man was banned from commenting on the VCHD Facebook page about COVID-19.

Plaintiff Doug Springer is asking to again be allowed to post comments on the VCHD’s Facebook page, according to the federal lawsuit filed Tuesday in the Southern District of Indiana. He seeks court costs but not monetary damages.

Attorney Gavin Rose of the ACLU of Indiana also is asking the court to issue a preliminary injunction requiring the VCHD to restore Springer’s previous Facebook comments and to prohibit the agency from banning or removing his future comments “based on the content or viewpoint of the plaintiff’s speech.”

In the court action, Springer claims he posted a comment in regard to a January 2021 bar graph chart posted by the health department showing positive COVID-19 cases since March 2020.

His comment was that the graph did not show cases of COVID-19, but “positive test results and the majority of them will never get sick from the virus.” His post went on to say the virus is “much less dangerous than it is being portrayed.”

Springer claims the health department swiftly “banned” him from its Facebook page, an action which also deleted any previous comments he had made on the VCHD Facebook page.

His suit claims the ban “represents improper viewpoint-based discrimination.”

Contacted today about the lawsuit, health department administrator Joni Wise said she was not aware it had been filed.

Lisa Trigg can be reached at 812-231-4254 or at lisa.trigg@tribstar.com. Follow her on Twitter at TribStarLisa.

Trending Video

Lisa Trigg has been a reporter at the Tribune-Star since 2009. With more than 30 years of newspaper experience, she now covers general news with a focus on crime and courts.