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Restaurant lawsuit against Governor Gavin Newsom moves forward

KC Steakhouse
Posted at 4:39 PM, Dec 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-17 20:38:14-05

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — A ruling by a San Diego judge could mean big news for a lawsuit recently filed in Kern County regarding the governor's recent regional stay-at-home order which paused outdoor dining and the impact it's having on local restaurants. 23ABC’s Austin Westfall has the details on what a lawyer is saying.

It’s no secret that many restaurant owners are frustrated but this new ruling in San Diego is providing some hope that it’s not impossible to overturn the state’s restrictions.

Lawyer Thomas Anton is representing 35 Kern County restaurants in a lawsuit that was initially announced last week and filed on Wednesday. The businesses are claiming Governor Gavin Newsom has exceeded his authority by placing a ban on indoor and outdoor dining in an effort to fight surging COVID cases in the state.

“Probably Monday we’ll have a preliminary injunction hearing where everybody gets to come and present their positions,” said Anton. “What’s next is we hope to get a court to listen to this and issue an injunction.”

Following a Wednesday court ruling, a judge issued an injunction prohibiting a cease-and-desist order from being enforced on strip clubs and San Diego County businesses with restaurant service. At a hearing on Thursday, the judge said his ruling encompasses all restaurants, not just strip clubs.

Anton said the ruling in San Diego is good news for his lawsuit because he says it’s the same argument.

“Of our clients, there are almost 820 employees that are going to be forced to be laid off.”

Kern Public Health has repeatedly said that there is no evidence that many of the businesses targeted by the state are responsible for significant COVID spread in the community. They say the place most responsible for the spread is households.

California Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly has said that transmission is so widespread across the state right now, that all non-essential activities create a serious risk for transmission.

Anton said he’s asking for a temporary restraining order which would halt the restrictions for now, until that preliminary injunction hearing is held. Until then, many businesses will be eagerly waiting to hear more.

“Where do we go from here? We trust Americans to do the right thing," said Cassie Bittle, general manager at KC’s Steakhouse. "I think if you're an able-bodied American and you want to go out and have a meal, I think that is your right to be able to make that choice."

Nothing is set in stone for a preliminary hearing yet, but Anton anticipates the California secretary of state’s office, the ABC, and public health will be there too.