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COVID-19: Judge Throws Out CT Lounge Owner's Lawsuit Challenging Executive Order

A judge ruled against two Connecticut bar owners who filed a lawsuit over the state's executive order barring social gathering.
A judge ruled against two Connecticut bar owners who filed a lawsuit over the state's executive order barring social gathering.

A federal judge has rejected a complaint from a pair of Connecticut bar owners who alleged that the state’s emergency orders limiting the size of social gatherings violated their constitutional rights.

U.S. District of Connecticut Judge Michael Shea ruled this week to uphold the state’s emergency orders after a lawsuit was brought by Michael Amato and Joy Monsanto, the owners of the 50’s Lounge in New Haven.

The bar owners alleged that the closures orders amid the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak was unconstitutional and could force them out of business.

Shea denied the temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction requested by Amato and Monsanto, ruling that the pandemic gives the state and city the right to restrict social gatherings.

The order states that the restriction on the size of gatherings is "imposed in light of recommendations from the CDC and the Connecticut Department of Public Health to implement ‘community mitigation strategies to increase containment of the virus and to slow transmission of the virus’ and an increase in ‘COVID-19 infections and resulting hospitalizations." 

"In recent days, at the same time,  residents of areas with high infection rates have arrived in Connecticut, creating a need to enact further mandatory distancing measures to limit the rate of spread of the disease.’”

Norm Pattis, who represented the bar owners, claiming that the judge was using outdated precedents in his ruling.

“The ruling relies heavily on the sole U.S. Supreme Court case to come close to the issue, decided before World War I,” Pattis stated. 

“By that anachronistic standard prohibition is legal, women can’t vote and discrimination is accepted social custom. Judge Shea’s decision is the equivalent of driving a horse and buggy down the interstate and should offend any sane person trying to navigate the highways today.”

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