Judge dismisses lawsuit against city over COVID regulations

A federal judge has dismissed a civil lawsuit a fitness gym filed against a Mississippi city.

Posted: May 16, 2021 2:07 AM

STARKVILLE, Miss. (AP) — A federal judge has dismissed a civil lawsuit a fitness gym filed against a Mississippi city claiming the city violated business owners’ rights when it forced non-essential businesses to close to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

Republican Gov. Tate Reeves issued executive orders in April 2020 that temporarily shut down non-essential businesses, including fitness gyms, spas, salons and barbershops. Aldermen in Starkville approved local ordinances mirroring the state order, The Dispatch reports.

In their suit, Starkville Athletic Club managers John and Joe Underwood said the ordinance violated the state and U.S. constitution. They said forcing businesses to close is equivalent to taking their property for public purposes without just compensation.

They also claimed the city’s ban on fitness gyms is “arbitrary” because Starkville Police Department continued to leave a gym open for its officers during the time private gyms were ordered to be closed.

But Senior U.S. District Judge for North Mississippi Glen H. Davidson said the city has the right to enact such policies during a public health crisis. He said the city did not damage or take any of their real property and that lost potential profits from the city not allowing them to pursue their business interest did not constitute “taking.”

Attorney Jim Waide of Tupelo, who is representing the Underwoods, told The Dispatch Wednesday he hasn’t decided whether to advise his clients to appeal. He said cases involving non-essential businesses are filing against government entities for lost profits during the pandemic are “by and large being dismissed.”

“I would never have agreed to file it if I didn’t think it would succeed or that we were right,” Waide told the newspaper. “I still think we were right.”

After ordering them to close in April, Reeves later filed another order in May 2020 allowing businesses like gyms to reopen.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 320107

Reported Deaths: 7378
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto22291269
Hinds20741421
Harrison18444317
Rankin13917282
Jackson13731249
Madison10270224
Lee10060176
Jones8473167
Forrest7834153
Lauderdale7263242
Lowndes6523150
Lamar636088
Lafayette6314121
Washington5426137
Bolivar4841133
Panola4671110
Oktibbeha466398
Pearl River4606147
Marshall4574105
Warren4440121
Pontotoc425973
Monroe4161136
Union415877
Neshoba4064180
Lincoln4009113
Hancock387087
Leflore3516125
Tate342586
Sunflower339491
Pike3372111
Alcorn327473
Scott320374
Yazoo314371
Adams308386
Itawamba305178
Copiah299966
Coahoma298984
Simpson298589
Tippah292268
Prentiss284261
Leake272274
Marion271280
Covington267283
Wayne264842
Grenada264087
George252251
Newton248963
Tishomingo232268
Winston230181
Jasper222148
Attala215173
Chickasaw210559
Holmes190374
Stone188733
Clay187954
Tallahatchie180041
Clarke178980
Calhoun174232
Yalobusha167840
Smith164134
Walthall135447
Greene131834
Lawrence131224
Montgomery128643
Noxubee128034
Perry127538
Amite126342
Carroll122330
Webster115032
Jefferson Davis108334
Tunica108127
Claiborne103130
Benton102325
Humphreys97533
Kemper96729
Franklin85023
Quitman82316
Choctaw79118
Wilkinson69632
Jefferson66328
Sharkey50917
Issaquena1696
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 549013

Reported Deaths: 11311
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson810461571
Mobile42145831
Madison35718525
Tuscaloosa26179458
Shelby25626254
Montgomery25089614
Baldwin21901314
Lee16287176
Calhoun14724327
Morgan14639285
Etowah14183364
Marshall12454230
Houston10791287
Elmore10301214
Limestone10188157
St. Clair10161251
Cullman9958201
Lauderdale9612250
DeKalb8977190
Talladega8462184
Walker7341280
Autauga7242113
Jackson6953113
Blount6950139
Colbert6415140
Coffee5638127
Dale4930116
Russell454941
Chilton4478116
Franklin431782
Covington4279122
Tallapoosa4144155
Escambia401880
Chambers3728124
Dallas3610158
Clarke353161
Marion3245107
Pike314578
Lawrence3134100
Winston283572
Bibb268564
Geneva258481
Marengo250665
Pickens237062
Barbour234559
Hale227178
Butler224671
Fayette218962
Henry194443
Randolph187644
Cherokee187345
Monroe180641
Washington170739
Macon163051
Clay160159
Crenshaw156357
Cleburne153644
Lamar146937
Lowndes142254
Wilcox126930
Bullock124542
Conecuh113630
Coosa111629
Perry108626
Sumter105832
Greene93634
Choctaw62125
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