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Wednesday, October 6, 2021

Court Dismisses Complaint Challenging COVID-19 Restaurant Restrictions

In December 2020, an adult business entertainment club sued Governor Pritzker, the Mayor of the City of Harvey (where the club is located), the Illinois Department of Public Health, and the Cook County Department of Public Health challenging the enforcement of the Governor's order restricting all indoor dining. 

The adult club had been served written notice by the City that it was in violation of the Governor's Executive Order 2020-63 (“EO-63”) which restricted restaurants and bars in Cook County from offering indoor dining and beverage consumption. The written notice stated that businesses violating the order would be subject to criminal arrest and business license revocation.

The club argued in its lawsuit that:

  1. the governments' activities were governed by the Illinois Department of Public Health Act (20 ILCS 2305/et seq.);
  2. the mitigation measures stated in EO-63 did not comply with the Act; and
  3. City officials were not authorized to arrest the club.

The City filed a motion to dismiss the claim, and recently the Circuit Court of Cook Count dismissed the case with prejudice in Tripp Location LLC v. Pritzker.

The court first looked at Section 7 of the Illinois Emergency Management Act (20 ILCS 3305/7), which authorizes a Governor to declare disaster proclamations and to suspend regulations of any state agency if the regulation hinders efforts to cope with the disaster. The court also noted that an Illinois Appellate Court had previously determined that the Governor had the authority to issue successive disaster proclamations for the same disaster — in this case, the COVID-19 Global Pandemic. 

In addition, the court noted that although state statute authorizes the Illinois Department of Public Health to order a business’s closure to the public to prevent the spread of infectious disease with the consent of the owner or upon order of a court, an Appellate Court had already held that COVID-19 mitigation measures of this type were not considered "business closures" but instead merely “prescribed guidelines that restaurants must follow to safely operate.” As a result, the court determined that EO-63 and subsequent regulations that restricted indoor dining did not violate, or even implicate, Section 2 of the Illinois Department of Public Health Act.

In sum, the court rejected plaintiffs' claims and agreed with the City that the case should be dismissed.

Post Authored by Mike Halpin & Julie Tappendorf, Ancel Glink

Disclaimer: Ancel Glink represented the City defendants in this case.


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