Gov. Gavin Newsom, the counties of Los Angeles, Orange and Riverside and dozens of officials from those regions were sued Friday by seven business owners who allege the forced closure of their shops and eateries in accordance with public health guidelines violates their civil rights.
The lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles federal court, seeks a judge’s order to stop the enforcement of the government’s order closing their businesses, regardless of whether they have implemented social-distancing and other recommended health practices to stem the spread of the coronavirus.
According to the suit, the state “hastily instituted” closure orders that have “come at a steep price with respect to the complete and utter restraint on Californians’ civil rights and liberties.”
Riverside County officials named as defendants include Public Health Officer Dr. Cameron Kaiser, Sheriff Chad Bianco and Supervisors Kevin Jeffries, Karen Spiegel, Chuck Washington, V. Manual Perez and Jeff Hewitt.
Other defendants also include Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, state Attorney General Xavier Becerra, Los Angeles County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer, L.A. County Sheriff Alex Villanueva and the LA County Board of Supervisors.
One of the plaintiffs, Yreka Food Enterprises, has establishments throughout Los Angeles, Orange and Riverside counties. The company currently owns, operates and/or manages six Ruby’s Diner franchises in Orange and Los Angeles counties, a Pronto Cafe in Los Angeles County, and three Auntie Anne’s Pretzels in Los Angeles, Orange and Riverside counties. It also owns a Charley’s Subs in Los Angeles County, according to the lawsuit.
The other plaintiffs are Gondola Adventures in Newport Beach; Hernandez Productions in South El Monte; King’s Pet Grooming/King’s Mobile Pet Spa of Burbank; Sol De Mexico/Cielito Lindo restaurant in South El Monte; Wildfire/Wildfire Lighting in Los Angeles; and Ybanz Gonzalez/La Sirenita of Los Angeles and Ventura counties.
Small businesses have “already been financially crippled, forced to shut their doors for business and to conduct mass layoffs,” the suit says. “Indeed, some of these plaintiffs’ `non-essential’ businesses might never financially recover as a result. The stakes for immediate relief from this court … could not be higher.”