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Coronavirus In Ohio: Federal Lawsuit Calls For Removal Of State Of Emergency

A closed sign is posted at Pins Mechanical duckpin bowling alley and bar in downtown Columbus in March 2020.
Karen Kasler
Ohio Public Radio
A closed sign is posted at Pins Mechanical duckpin bowling alley and bar in downtown Columbus.

A lawsuit has been filed in federal court demanding the removal of Ohio's state of emergency, which was declared in March in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and led to restrictions imposed on the state’s businesses.

Robert Gargasz, a Lorain County attorney who has sued in state court on behalf of dance studios and entertainment venues, represents nine plantiffs in this federal lawsuit. He claims there’s no emergency and that the state has something to hide.

“We need to be protected against this tyranny," says Gargasz, who argues a precedent must be set.

Gargasz says Gov. Mike DeWine and former Ohio Health Department director Amy Action intentionally misled and terrified the public, causing businesses to lose a trillion dollars in economic activity. The lawsuit claims the shutdowns and restrictions are unconstitutional.

“Ohio’s citizens, Ohio’s businesses have all been damaged," Gargasz says. "And we had to go to court in order to try to get this stopped. I mean that lawsuit is meant to restore liberty and freedom for Ohioans."

DeWine says he’s been sued in state courts over the mandated business closures and restrictions before. He says he's not surprised that Ohio is now being sued in federal court.

“I don’t have any comment about it," DeWine said Tuesday. "We know we are doing what we know will make a difference. We know that this economy cannot move forward, that people cannot have jobs unless we keep the virus down."

Jo Ingles is a professional journalist who covers politics and Ohio government for the Ohio Public Radio and Television for the Ohio Public Radio and Television Statehouse News Bureau. She reports on issues of importance to Ohioans including education, legislation, politics, and life and death issues such as capital punishment.