Mother of 3 dies after being refused COVID vaccine at Kaiser, lawsuit alleges

A Southern California mother of three with multiple sclerosis, but who was managing the disease fine, died from COVID-19 because her health care provider denied her a vaccine and then monoclonal antibody treatment when she fell ill, her attorneys said Tuesday.

The attorneys for the family of 45-year-old Nerissa Regnier, of Mission Viejo, who died Dec. 16, are ramping up a wrongful death lawsuit they plan to announce details of at a news conference on Wednesday.

Regnier is survived by her husband, Devin Regnier, and her three children, ages 14, 16, and 29.

"She was a very healthy mother of three managing her MS," said attorney Annee Della Donna.

In February, Regnier was placed on a new regimen of medication for her MS, which suppressed her immune system, Della Donna said.

When she inquired about getting one of the COVID-19 vaccines she was told she could not have it because it contained a "live virus," which is false, Della Donna said.

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"When you're immunocompromised you need the COVID-19 vaccine," Della Donna said.

She asked for it seven times over the next six months and was told each time she could not receive a "live" vaccine, the attorney said.

"They keep telling her no, no, no," Della Donna said.

Regnier finally emailed her neurologist in August asking him about the vaccines and he told her she needed to get inoculated, Della Donna said.

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"Two days later she runs over to Kaiser to get the COVID vaccine and she's feeling symptoms so they test her and she's got COVID," Della Donna said.

Then she was given antibiotics, another no-no, Della Donna alleged. She was also given steroids, which is also not recommended and can be harmful, Della Donna said.

At some point while at Kaiser's hospital in Irvine her husband had her discharged when she was denied monoclonal antibody treatment and drove her to Hoag Memorial  Hospital Presbyterian, where she was told it was too late for the treatment, attorney Eric Dubin said.

Regnier was stabilized at Hoag and then taken back to Kaiser, where she later died, Della Donna said.

"Twice, this husband relied on Kaiser for medical guidance and twice they failed him," Dubin said. "It's a devastating case."

Regnier, who worked as a realtor, was a "healthy mom," who was "very active in the community," Della Donna said. She had her MS under control with two infusions of medicine a year.

Della Donna said the family wants to hold a news conference announcing the lawsuit because, "This is a public service announcement. If you're told you shouldn't get the vaccine because its' a live vaccine that's just flat- out wrong. And everybody whose immune system is down needs to get the vaccine. That's why we're doing this. We don't want this poor woman's life to be taken in vain."

Kaiser Permanente issued a statement saying:

"On behalf of our physicians and care givers at Kaiser Permanente, we extend our deepest condolences to the family of Nerissa Regnier for the loss of their loved one.  This global pandemic has tragically affected so many families.  

While we cannot comment on personal health information or the specific circumstances of this case, our physicians and health care professionals are dedicated to ensuring every individual treated at Kaiser Permanente receives the highest quality health care appropriate for their situation.  Treatments for COVID-19 continue to rapidly evolve, and in consultation with each patient, we prescribe care that is intended to provide the best clinical outcomes based on current knowledge and their individual needs.

Additionally, we have clearly communicated to our members, patients and the public that none of the available COVID-19 vaccines contain the live virus and that they are safe and effective.  

Kaiser Permanente has been consistent since vaccines first became available that we are committed to administering vaccines safely and equitably in accordance with all federal and state guidelines."

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