A student at Cal Poly has taken legal action against the university and local health authorities after being barred from attending in-person classes for failing to comply with COVID-19 regulations.

Elijah Behringer, the plaintiff, claims that his federal and state rights were violated due to the alleged misapplication of state law and authority by officials from the San Luis Obispo County Public Health Department and the university. The lawsuit was filed on May 23, The Tribune reported this week.

Behringer raised doubts about the legitimacy of the COVID-19 pandemic and questioned the authority of organizations like the World Health Organization (WHO) in dictating state and federal health regulations. He further asserted that Cal Poly failed to obtain informed consent from him and other individuals regarding the use of masks, vaccines and testing.

Having begun his studies in electrical engineering at Cal Poly in 2019, Behringer chose not to enroll in September 2021, partly due to concerns regarding COVID-19 regulations. He planned to return in January 2022 but claimed that his requests for exemptions to vaccination, testing and mask-wearing were denied, effectively preventing him from attending classes.

Upon his return for the winter quarter, Behringer discovered that he was not permitted to attend classes. As a result, he has been on an indefinite leave of absence and has taken the opportunity to study law over the past year instead of pursuing his engineering studies.

While Behringer could potentially resume his studies at Cal Poly in the fall with junior standing, he decided to file the lawsuit at this time "to deter these kinds of civil rights misconduct," per The Tribune.

According to the 54-page civil complaint, Behringer remained unvaccinated, did not wear a face mask on campus and refused to undergo screening for potential COVID-19 symptoms. These measures were mandated for students, faculty and staff accessing campus during the pandemic.

In his lawsuit, Behringer accused the Cal Poly administration and county health officials of colluding to intimidate and coerce the civilian population into adhering to mask-wearing and recommended COVID safety guidelines.

Cal Poly has acknowledged receipt of the complaint, and university spokesperson Matt Lazier has stated that they are currently in the process of formulating a response to Behringer's claims. At this early stage, Cal Poly refrains from commenting on the ongoing litigation.

The defendants named in the lawsuit include Cal Poly President Jeffrey Armstrong, Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs Health and Well-being Tina Hadaway-Mellis, COVID-19 Lead Coordinator Valla Hardy, Disability Resource Center Assistant Director Amy Gode, the municipal government of San Luis Obispo County, and County Health Officer Dr. Penny Borenstein.