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Bid to enjoin CDC airline mask mandate fails

Where an anti-mask advocate moved to enjoin a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC, order requiring airline passengers to wear masks, but the mandate had already been enjoined by another court and he had been granted waivers from the mandate when he traveled, his motion for injunctive relief was denied.


The CDC has issued an order generally requiring air travelers to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test before departure to the United States. The CDC has also issued an order requiring persons to “wear masks over the mouth and nose when traveling on any conveyance … into or within the United States” and “at transportation hubs.”

Plaintiff Kleanthis Andreadakis belongs to a group known as Americans Against Mask Mandates or AAMM, which Lucas Wall chairs. AAMM works collectively on lawsuits filed by its members to challenge the mask order. In this suit, plaintiff seeks an order enjoining defendants from enforcing the orders implemented by the federal government requiring masks for airline travelers. Defendants have filed motions to transfer to the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida, where similar litigation — that plaintiff sought to join — is now pending.


Courts undertake a two-step analysis in analyzing transfers under § 1404, asking “(1) whether the claims might have been brought in the transferee forum, and (2) whether the interest of justice and convenience of the parties and witnesses justify transfer to that forum.” If the court establishes the propriety of the transferee venue, the court then balances several factors.

Here, defendants have not met the first prong of the analysis – that plaintiff could have originally brought this case in the Middle District of Florida. With no defendants residing in the Middle District of Florida, and none of the events giving rise to plaintiff’s claims occurring in Florida, plaintiff could not have properly filed this action in the Middle District of Florida.

The federal defendants claim that the court can find venue proper in Florida “once [this case] is properly understood as an action by Mr. Wall and his associates, rather than an independent action by Plaintiff to vindicate his own rights.” However, for the sake of determining whether plaintiff could have brought this action in Florida, the court must view it as an individual action by plaintiff seeking to vindicate his own rights.

The striking similarities in the suits bear relevance on the first-to-file rule, but not on the propriety of venue and personal jurisdiction. Accordingly, defendants have not met their burden of demonstrating that plaintiff could have brought this case in the Middle District of Florida, and the court need not engage in the second step of the § 1404(a) analysis.


Plaintiff seeks a preliminary injunction against United Airlines Inc. and federal defendants, prohibiting them from enforcing the mask mandate. As a threshold matter, the current state of the mask order likely renders plaintiff incapable of demonstrating irreparable harm. The vacatur of the mask order by the Middle District of Florida renders plaintiff incapable of claiming any harm from the ongoing enforcement of the mask order. Even if the vacatur order is stayed or reversed, the mask order currently expires on May 3, 2022, undercutting any claim to ongoing irreparable harm.

Even if the mask order remains in place beyond May 3, however, plaintiff has failed to show the required irreparable harm. Plaintiff rests his motion for a preliminary injunction on two claims of irreparable harm: “being forced to mask while flying or be banned from using the public airspace constitutes irreparable harm.” However, these harms have yet to materialize. And, they may never materialize.

The airline defendants have submitted evidence that plaintiff has taken two trips to California by airplane — one in November 2021 and another in February 2022. For both, plaintiff received an exemption from the requirement that passengers wear a facemask. Plaintiff has submitted no evidence that he has been denied the ability to fly on a future flight or will be forced to fly on a plane with a mask. Nor has he submitted any evidence to suggest that he has a future flight scheduled for which he will be denied an exemption.

Defendants’ motions to transfer denied. Plaintiff’s motion for injunctive relief denied.

Andreadakis v. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Case No. 3:22-cv-52, April 22, 2022. EDVA at Richmond (Novak). VLW 022-3-180. 15 pp.