April 30, 2020
Judge rejects Culpeper gym’s shut-down challenge
Both lawyers representing Culpeper Gold’s Gym franchise owner Merill C. “Sandy” Hall in the lawsuit against Gov. Ralph Northam also serve as state senators.
By Ned Oliver
God forbid, if anyone became ill, what would the cost be? And what would Mr. Hall’s responsibility in order to pay for and defray some of the risk that we would be taking in allowing him to reopen?
— Judge Claude Worrell
Attorneys for the Gold’s Gym franchisee in Culpeper argued that COVID-19 hasn’t been that bad as they tried to convince a judge on Thursday to overturn an executive order closing fitness centers and other businesses.
“Hospital bed availability is not an issue; we’re not suffering the kinds of calamities that the sky is falling,” said Bill Stanley, a Republican state senator who represented the gym in the case with fellow GOP Sen. Ryan McDougle. They said that the economic damage caused by forcing the gyms to close outweighed what Mr. Stanley described as “the speculative threat of COVID.”
Judge Claude Worrell, who heard the case electronically from Culpeper County Circuit Court, rejected the argument and refused to issue an injunction, telling the plaintiffs he thought they were unlikely to succeed at trial. Further, Judge Worrell said the gym’s owner, Merill C. “Sandy” Hall, couldn’t begin to compensate the public for potential damages were it to contribute to the spread of the disease.
“God forbid, if anyone became ill, what would the cost be? And what would Mr. Hall’s responsibility in order to pay for and defray some of the risk that we would be taking in allowing him to reopen?” Judge Worrell asked. “Is 100 million sufficient for Mr. Hall to post bond in this matter? A billion? Is that too much just to cover Culpeper?”
The judge also rejected arguments that Gov. Ralph Northam exceeded his authority with the order. Mr. Stanley had told the judge Gov. Northam was using the order as if it said “he has super powers, he can wear a cape, he can fly and stop crime.”
The governor issued the order March 24, with an original expiration April 23. But, two weeks ago, Gov. Northam extended the closures until May 8.
Judge Worrell said the legislation empowering the Gov. Northam to act in such an emergency is broad to the point where the courts can only intervene in cases when they believe the governor is “plainly wrong, acting in bad faith or the governor has violated the constitutional rights of an individual or individuals.”
Finally, the plaintiffs also argued that the gym was not in fact a gym under state law and was instead a private health club.
Judge Worrell called it “an interesting argument” but said that the word gym was in the name of the business and it clearly “meets the common understanding of what a gym is.”
Attorney General Mark Herring’s office represented Gov. Northam in the lawsuit.
“I’m really glad we were able to again successfully defend Governor Northam’s Executive Orders,” Mr. Herring said in a statement. “Social distancing continues to be the most important thing we can do to keep our communities safe, keep Virginians healthy and prevent the spread of COVID-19. While I understand there are many hardships that come with these critical safety measures, we must remember that we are all working together to keep ourselves, our families and our communities safe and healthy.”
Va. Executive Order 53 Temp... by Fauquier Now on Scribd
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Tony Bentley · May 1, 2020 at 9:33 am
Saying the Democratic party is benefiting from COVID-19 is idiotic. People that vote Democratic are dying all across the country, as are people that vote Republican. This disease knows no political affiliation.
It's time for people over party. Now if only we could convince Trump and Company that is what is best for the country, but they are living in a bubble. Let's pop that sucker!
AngryBob · May 1, 2020 at 9:08 am
Governor Blackface, loyal to his party, doing his part to tank the economy before November. Otherwise Sleepy Joe wouldn't stand a chance. The Wuflu is the best thing that could have happened for the democratic party and they'll make the most of the opportunity.
Expect the lockdown to continue for a long time.
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