Local Businesses Sue Health Department over COVID Restrictions
Missoula attorney Quentin Rhoades, who in December sued then Governor Steve Bullock over mask mandates, has now filed suit against the Missoula County Health Department on behalf of a statewide organization, several local businesses and one individual.
Rhoades said the Health Department’s regulations have ‘lost income, employees, customers, businesses and livelihoods as the proximate result of Defendants’ actions.’
“I've got a group of clients who've had enough and it's their contention that the City of Missoula does not have statutory authority to impose restrictions on people who aren't demonstrated to be either infected with a contagious disease exposed to someone who is infected with agencies are suspected to be,” said Rhoades. “The restrictions that are put on healthy people are not authorized by law.”
Rhoades and his clients made the following claims.
“The statute doesn't give the Missoula County Health Department or the Health Officer, the power to restrict people who aren't sick and haven't been exposed to sick people and aren't carriers of some sort of a contagious disease,” he said. “They've seized that power, and they've aggregated themselves, but they have done so without legislative authority, and it's our contention that without legislative authority, then those activities are illegal.”
Rhoades pointed out one individual who says she has experienced severe discrimination because it is not safe for her to wear a mask.
“They’ve shown that they've been imposed upon by the health department with regard to mask orders, and harassment about whether or not they've been enforcing the mask orders. The individual who is a plaintiff in the case has been subject to all kinds of discrimination, and basically hate, because she has a medical condition that makes it unsafe for her to wear a mask, so if she tries to ride the Mountain Line (bus), or she tries to go into any other public accommodation, like the grocery store she gets kicked out and if she resists, she gets bullied and threatened with arrest.”
Rhoades said the plaintiffs are not seeking any monetary gain from the court action.
“We're not looking for money,” he said. “We're looking for injunctive relief to just say, stop already. Just stop. And about the masks, you don't have authority to impose masks. You don't have the authority to impose on businesses. The duty as your ad hoc police force to enforce masks, and furthermore, the science doesn’t support it.”
Stand Up Montana, the group that filed the lawsuit in December, is also behind the lawsuit against the Missoula City County Health Department.
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