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Rehearing Sought In Student Ultrasound Case

The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

Valencia College employees want a full federal appeals court to hear a case that focuses on whether students' constitutional rights were violated in a training program that included students performing ultrasound procedures on each other.

A three-judge panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals this month overturned a U.S. District Court judge's decision to dismiss the case, filed by former students Melissa Milward, Elyse Ugalde and Ashley Rose.

The former students allege that they faced retaliation after objecting to students performing invasive procedures, known as "transvaginal" ultrasounds, on each other at the Orlando state college. Also, two of the former students said the procedures subjected them to unconstitutional searches under the Fourth Amendment.

The three-judge panel ruling this month would send the case back to the lower court. But attorneys for the college employees involved in the case, Barbara Ball, Linda Shaheen, Maureen Bugnacki and Suda Amodt, filed a petition Tuesday seeking a rehearing before the full appeals court, a move known as seeking an "en banc" hearing.

At least in part, the petition disputed that the case involves unconstitutional searches under the Fourth Amendment. "These holdings (by the three-judge panel) give rise to questions of exceptional importance to all public educational institutions regarding curricula that involve student-to-student educational training exercises, as such institutions are now threatened with embroilment in previously unrecognized civil rights litigation," the petition said. "Further, these holdings affect the basic analysis to be used in any case when examining whether the government has conducted a search under the Fourth Amendment."