The Alabama Center for Law and Liberty (ACLL) has added plaintiffs in a lawsuit stemming from Alabama’s COVID-19 lockdowns.
According to a release from the ACLL, O’Dell Equipment Rental, LLC, and JoJo’s Mini Golf & Frozen Yogurt, both owned by Jonathan O’Dell, have been added to a lawsuit against Gov. Kay Ivey and State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris.
The suit claims that O’Dell had successfully run his equipment rental business until 2018 when he ceased renting equipment and began using the business’s property to open an outdoor mini-golf course and a frozen yogurt shop.
The suit further claims that, after COVID hit in March of 2020, the lockdowns imposed by Ivey and Harris forced JoJo’s to close its doors. Due to the classification of JoJo’s as a “nonessential” business, it was forced to shut down until May, and then only at half capacity.
“JoJo’s was subject to that order until November 2020,” the release read. “These orders resulted in JoJo’s losing over 77% of its revenue, and it was forced to close in December of 2020. O’Dell was also forced to sign JoJo’s property back over to the bank.”
“This suit is about three things: compensating our clients for their losses, holding our government accountable for its actions, and defending the principle of separation of powers.” ACLL President Matt Clark said. “Dr. Harris and Gov. Ivey ran the state for an entire year without any meaningful input from the legislature. Just as taxation without representation was a major grievance of the American Founders, ‘shutdown without representation’ is the major grievance in this suit. The Alabama constitution gives the legislative branch the authority to make the law and the executive branch the authority to execute the law. When the two powers are combined in the executive branch, people get hurt, as our clients’ case demonstrates.”
On March 19, the ACLL filed suit on behalf of Saranne Riccio and her business, Uncorked Providence, which also went out of business after the lockdowns.
“We want to hold the executive branch accountable for what it did and set a precedent [should] something like this [happen] again,” Clark told 1819 News. “Even though Ms. Riccio’s business was not essential to the government, it was essential to her.”
The ACLL is not alone if filing lawsuits against Ivey and Harris.
In September of 2020, seven Alabama residents represented by former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore and The Foundation for Moral Law filed suit in federal district court against Ivey and Harris, stating they abused their power when they imposed certain COVID restrictions. The case is still pending after being moved to the Middle District Court.
Clark previously stated that similar victories in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania would establish sufficient precedent for a win in Alabama.
“Because the legislature failed in 2020 and 2021 to rebalance the powers of the legislature and the executive, and since Gov. Ivey views the people’s representatives as a 'herd of turtles' unworthy of a vote, the people have no other choice than to resort to the courts to ensure that something like this never happens again,” Clark said. "Suits in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania have resulted in successful precedents holding that, even in a pandemic, the executive branch’s authority is still limited. We hope that the Alabama courts will agree.”
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