Ohio Judge Rules Gyms Can Reopen Without Fear of State Retaliation: ‘Unreasonable and Oppressive’

masks in a gym
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Gyms in Ohio can now reopen without fear of retaliation from the state thanks to an Ohio judge, who said that the state’s Health Director, Dr. Amy Acton, has acted “in an impermissibly arbitrary, unreasonable, and oppressive manner.”

Lake County Court of Common Pleas Judge Eugene Lucci ruled in favor of gyms and health centers battling Acton’s orders, effectively barring health officials from retaliating against facilities that choose to reopen.

The Ohio Department of Health, Lucci concluded, violated the rights of citizens by “criminalizing lawful businesses, and imposing strict liability for violations, including severe criminal, civil, and equitable penalties.”

“The director has no statutory authority to close all businesses, including the plaintiffs’ gyms, for more than two months,” Lucci determined. “She has acted in an impermissibly arbitrary, unreasonable, and oppressive manner without any reasonable safeguards.”

Cleveland 19 reported:

The ruling states that Dr. Acton, the Lake County General Health District, law enforcement officers, prosecutors, and the Ohio Attorney General are “enjoined,” or prohibited from imposing any penalties for non-compliance of the Department of Health director’s order, given that they operate in compliance with safety regulations.

The lawsuit, filed by 1851 Center for Constitution law on behalf of Rock House Fitness Inc, and 34 other gyms, was presented on May 8 to the Lake County Court of Common Pleas judge after the statewide stay-at-home and “Stay Safe Ohio” orders restricted certain non-essential businesses from operating as a precautionary measure to help limit the spread of COVID-19.

According to the Highland County Press, Lucci also dismissed the view that “one unelected individual could exercise such unfettered power to force everyone to obey impermissibly vague rules without any legislative guidance.”

“Constitutions are written to prevent governments from arbitrarily interfering in citizens’ lives and businesses,” 1851 Center Executive Director Maurice Thompson said in a statement.

“On that front, the call to action is clear: the governor and health director may no longer impose their own closures and regulations and write their own criminal penalties to enforce those regulations and closures,” he continued.

“We remain available to serve those who are caught in the State’s tangled web of unlawful orders,” Thompson added.

Gyms, under Gov. Mike DeWine’s (R) reopening plan are not officially permitted to begin reopening until Tuesday, May 26.


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