(LFC Comments: Three cheers for Judge Eugene Lucci of Lake County Court of Common Pleas for his ruling.)
For Immediate Release
May 20, 2020
Ohio Court: Forced Closure of Gyms Unconstitutional
Health Department has no authority to close all business or create its own penalties
Painesville, OH – An Ohio Court of Common Pleas Wednesday morning enjoined the Ohio Governor and Director of the Department of Health from “imposing or enforcing penalties solely for non-compliance with the director’s order” against gymnasiums, health clubs, fitness centers, gyms, and workout facilities.
The 1851 Center for Constitutional Law’s victory against Defendant Amy Acton comes on behalf of 35 independent gyms across the state, who moved to enjoin the Ohio Department of Health from continuing to enforce its criminalization of even safe gym operations, as implemented through the Director’s various Orders since March.
The ruling by Judge Eugene Lucci of the Lake County Court of Common Pleas explains that private property rights are fundamental rights in Ohio, and that the Ohio Department of Health has both violated those rights and exceeded its own authority in “criminalizing lawful businesses, and imposing strict liability for violations, including severe criminal, civil, and equitable penalties”: “The director has no statutory authority to close all businesses, including the plaintiffs’ gyms . . . She has acted in an impermissibly arbitrary, unreasonable, and oppressive manner without any procedural safeguards.”
The ruling further excoriates the Department of Health’s insistence that “one unelected individual could exercise such unfettered power to force everyone to obey impermissibly vague rules without any legislative guidance.”
“Constitutions are written to prevent governments from arbitrarily interfering in citizens’ lives and businesses. On that front, the call to action is clear: the Governor and Health Director may no longer impose their own closures and regulations and write their own criminal penalties to enforce those regulations and closures,” explained 1851 Center Executive Director Maurice Thompson. “We remain available to serve those who are caught in the State’s tangled web of unlawful orders.”
The 1851 Center for Constitutional Law is a nonprofit, nonpartisan legal center dedicated to protecting the constitutional rights of Ohioans from government abuse. The 1851 Center litigates constitutional issues related to property rights, regulation, taxation, and searches and seizures.
Special thanks to Tim Cassell at Pinnacle Performance, who helped organize Ohio gyms to challenge government authority, even as other industries’ “leaders” wilted.