"I felt completely alone and vulnerable," nurse Kaci Hickox said about her experience under quarantine last year in New Jersey

By Caitlin Keating
Updated October 23, 2015 03:25 PM
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Credit: Robert F. Bukaty/AP

Kaci Hickox, the nurse from Maine who was forced into quarantine last year upon her return home from West Africa where she’d been treating Ebola patients in West Africa, sued New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie on Thursday for allegedly holding her against her will.

After a month-long trip to Sierra Leone, Hickox landed at Newark Liberty International Airport on Oct. 24, and made headlines when she protested her confinement and returned to her home in South Portland, Maine.

The incident occurred during the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, which has killed more than 11,300 people, according to The World Health Organization.

“The key issue here is that quarantine decisions that really go against all constitutional law should have due process, and politicians shouldn t be allowed to make their own judgments,” Hickox told The Washington Post. “I think this is a really important thing to fight for in the United States.”

The 21-day quarantine was imposed on all travelers arriving from Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea who had come in contact with Ebola patients.

After being released and allowed to travel home to Maine, she defied the quarantine on Oct. 29, when she left her house for an hour-long bike ride – with a state police cruiser in close pursuit.

At the time, Hickox’s argument for leaving her home was that she was completely asymptomatic and tested negative for Ebola in a preliminary evaluation.

“I’m not willing to stand here and let my civil rights be violated when it’s not science-based,” she told reporters at the time.

Hickox is seeking $250,000 in compensatory and punitive damages, according to NorthJersey.com.

Her lawyer, Norman Siegel, said that amounts to $2,000 for each hour of her 80-hour detention plus extra for punitive damages.

“We are filing this claim to hold those who made this decision accountable and also to highlight and fight against the lack of due process in the quarantine policy in New Jersey,” Hickox told the news outlet.

The complaint also names as defendants Mary O Dowd, the former state health commissioner, and Christopher Rinn and Gary Ludwig, two other employees of the state health department.

“I’ve been sued lots of times before,” said Gov. Christie last year, when he was asked about Hickox possibly filing a lawsuit. “Get in line. I m happy to take it on.