Gym owner sues City of Racine and health official over local Safer at Home extension

Gym owner sues City of Racine and health official over local Safer at Home extension

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Served

Mayor Cory Mason is served a lawsuit by Kevin Mathewson, a private investigator hired by the Kenosha law firm Guttormsen, Terry & Nudo. The lawsuit calls for the City of Racine's Safer at Home order to be overturned.

RACINE — A Racine business owner who says the future of his gym is in jeopardy due to the City of Racine’s Safer at Home order has filed a lawsuit against the City of Racine and Racine Public Health Administrator Dottie-Kay Bowersox.

David Yandel, owner of Harbor Park CrossFit, 3801 Blue River Ave., says that business has dropped by more than 25% since the enforcement of the Racine order, according to an affidavit filed Thursday.

Harbor Park Crossfit

Members of Harbor Park Crossfit get in a workout on Jan. 1, 2018. David Yandel, the owner of the business, filed a lawsuit against the City of Racine and Racine health official Dottie-Kay Bowersox claiming that the local Safer at Home order may lead to the end of his business. 

Yandel also claims that he is losing customers to competitors who are not forced to operate under the jurisdiction of Racine’s order. “I am unable to operate the business due to the Racine order under threat of criminal prosecution,” Yandel’s affidavit said.

Mayor Cory Mason was served the lawsuit in front of members of the media Friday morning during a press conference. Mason said he had “no comment” on the lawsuit Friday.

Dottie-Kay Bowersox

Bowersox

No immediate relief

The statewide Safer at Home order was overturned by the Wisconsin Supreme Court on May 13 by a 4-3 vote. Afterward, state Attorney General Josh Kaul said that local orders were still legal if there was an ongoing public health emergency in a specific locality.

Bowersox then issued the Racine Safer at Home order. Yandel’s lawsuit alleges that Bowersox’s order is an overreach of her authority and is unconstitutional and unlawful.

Under the city’s reopening plan unveiled Friday, Yandel may operate his gym starting Tuesday with a limit of up to 10 people inside at a time.

Yandel’s lawsuit said that the City’s Safer at Home order will “lead to the likely closure of the business” due to “significant loss of revenue and loss of customers due to the Racine order.”

The suit asks the court to find the Racine Safer at Home order “unlawful, invalid and unenforceable.”

A request to temporarily halt Racine’s Safer at Home order, thus allowing Yandel’s business to reopen immediately while the case makes its way through the court system, was denied Friday.

The city and Bowersox now must now file an answer to the lawsuit.

Federal lawsuit

This is the second lawsuit filed this week against against Bowersox. A federal lawsuit was filed Wednesday: It names Bowersox and 20 other Wisconsin officials, alleging that locally mandated Safer at Home orders are unconstitutional.

The first lawsuit, which lists a Racine resident as one of its 17 plaintiffs, asks the Eastern District of Wisconsin of the U.S. District Court to end all Safer at Home orders in Wisconsin.

“The local orders unlawfully interfere with plaintiffs’ rights to work and to worship, to gather and assemble, in violation of their Federal Constitutional Rights,” the complaint alleges.

Other defendants in the case represent Dane, Outagamie, Winnebago, Green and Rock counties, the City of Appleton, the Grand Chute Police Department, the Wisconsin State Capitol Police and the City of Milwaukee, as well Department of Health Services Secretary-designee Andrea Palm and Gov. Tony Evers.

The plaintiffs are represented by Joseph W. Voiland of Veterans Liberty Law, which is based in Cedarburg. Voiland served as an Ozaukee County Circuit Court judge from 2013-2019.

Adam Rogan of The Journal Times contributed to this story.

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“Like many in Racine, I will be closely watching which businesses are protecting their employees and their customers, and which ones are not. I will not hesitate to publicly acknowledge good actors and bad ones,” Mayor Cory Mason said. “If cases are traced to a business because of violations of this new order, we will publicly identify that business and they will be shut down.”

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