September 25, 2022

Volume XII, Number 268

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September 23, 2022

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September 22, 2022

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Could California Bill Result In Discipline Of C.D.C. Doctors?

A California bill, AB 2098 (Low), appears to be moving towards passage in the next two weeks.  The bill would make the spreading of misinformation, as defined, or disinformation related to COVID-19, including false or misleading information regarding the nature and risks of the virus, its prevention and treatment; and the development, safety, and effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines, by a physician and surgeon unprofessional conduct.  

"Eppur si muove"

I find the bill's definition of "misinformation" to be particularly troubling:

“Misinformation” means false information that is contradicted by contemporary scientific consensus to an extent where its dissemination constitutes gross negligence by the licensee.

The problem with this definition is that it treats current scientific consensus as unchallengeable truth.    On June 22, 1633, Galileo di Vincenzo Bonaiuti de' Galilei was condemned for advocating a heliocentric theory of the solar system, a theory that was contradicted by contemporary scientific consensus.  He spent the rest of his life under house arrest, and yet the earth still moves.  Similarly, Charles Darwin's theory of evolution contradicted centuries of scientific consensus with respect to the origin of species.

An unintended consequence of this bill will be to stifle the scientific process.  Yet unsparing skepticism is fundamental to the scientific enterprise.  Scientific knowledge is based on a continuing process of questioning, observation and experimentation.

Recently, Dr. Rochelle P. Walensky, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, was quoted as saying that the C.D.C. was "responsible for some pretty dramatic, pretty public mistakes, from testing to data to communications" with respect to the Covid-19 pandemic.  Although I doubt that AB 2098 was directed at C.D.C. physicians, the bill's definition of "misinformation" certainly creates that possibility.  

© 2010-2022 Allen Matkins Leck Gamble Mallory & Natsis LLP National Law Review, Volume XII, Number 235
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About this Author

Keith Paul Bishop, Corporate Transactions Lawyer, finance securities attorney, Allen Matkins Law Firm
Partner

Keith Bishop works with privately held and publicly traded companies on federal and state corporate and securities transactions, compliance, and governance matters. He is highly-regarded for his in-depth knowledge of the distinctive corporate and regulatory requirements faced by corporations in the state of California.

While many law firms have a great deal of expertise in federal or Delaware corporate law, Keith’s specific focus on California corporate and securities law is uncommon. A former California state regulator of securities and financial institutions, Keith has decades of...

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