A local bridal shop owner has filed a federal lawsuit against Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton claiming the state’s ban on non-essential businesses is unconstitutional.
The lawsuit was filed by Tanya Hartman, owner of Gilded Social -a downtown bridal shop. The suit is seeking judgment, preliminary or permanent injunction, and unspecified damages in relation to Acton’s stay-at-home order which closed non-essential businesses across the state on April 2, 2020.
According to Hartman, business was great prior to the ordered closure which unfortunately occurred during her busy season.
“This is our busy season, so we were as booked as we could be. However, when the shut down occurred, beginning effectively when the restaurants closed, our number of appointments plummeted immediately, even though we remained open through 3/22. The loss of revenue from our busy season could devastate our ability to remain open longterm. We count on January to April to cash flow us through the rest of the year,” she said.
Maurice Thompson, the attorney filing the suit on behalf of Hartman says the state reacted poorly in that the regulations were not narrowly tailored for safety alone.
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“The April 2 Order fails to provide owners of “non-essential businesses” any opportunity for a hearing where the State must demonstrate that such businesses are indeed “non-essential” and incapable of safe operation, even as many other businesses and operations not essential to survival have been exempted,” said a press release from the 1851 Center for Constitutional Law.
“It was not fair for the state to pick winners and losers among specific businesses,” added Thompson.
This echoes the voice of critics who have questioned why liquor stores and certain other businesses have been considered ‘essential’ by the state. while others have not.
“As the weeks went by we saw significant constitutional issues around the order and nobody else was taking action, which is why we decided to take action,” said Thompson on this lawsuit being what he believes is the first of its kind in Ohio.
“I am just fighting for all of Ohio’s small businesses to have a chance to safely open for business, as soon as possible. All of our employees and customers depend on us,” said Hartman.