(Update: Adding House Republican leader statement)
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Several Oregon businesses have threatened a class-action lawsuit against the state over COVID-19 restrictions implemented by Gov. Kate Brown to slow the pandemic.
A lawyer representing the businesses argues that Oregon officials should draft a plan to compensate small business owners for financial hardship caused by those restrictions, The Oregonian/OregonLive reported.
The demand letter was filed on behalf of a Linn County salon, a Coos County bowling alley and the Wilsonville Family Fun Center, better known as Bullwinkle’s.
“As a result of your orders, my clients and many other businesses like theirs closed as ordered and thousands of workers found themselves without employment,” attorney John DiLorenzo wrote in a tort claim letter to the state Friday.
Brown’s office said Monday it doesn’t comment on pending or potential litigation.
DiLorenzo is one of the state’s most high-profile attorneys, having most recently won a $1 billion jury verdict against the state for failing to maximize timber harvests. The state has appealed.
DiLorenzo is zeroing in on one of many state laws Brown cited in March when she ordered the shuttering of many businesses to slow the coronavirus. The closures included amusement parks, gyms, spas, malls, theaters, tattoo parlors and yoga studios.
DiLorenzo is arguing that a related provision in state law calls for reasonable compensation when the government takes real or personal property during a declared emergency.
Brown lifted many of her business restrictions beginning in May.
House Republican Leader Statement on Class Action Lawsuit on Behalf of Oregon Businesses Impacted by COVID-19 Executive Orders
Salem, ORE. – Today, House Republican Leader Christine Drazan (R-Canby) released a statement on the potential class action lawsuit on behalf of Oregon businesses who were closed by executive order.
“The governor has exercised her authority without moderation or consideration. While the governor has the authority to protect public health, Oregonians have the right to demand equal treatment and compensation for their losses.
Oregonians do not owe the governor their livelihoods, as she continues to move the goalposts in the fight against COVID-19. It’s past time for accountability.
The governor has issued arbitrary, at times contradictory, standards for different communities and groups, handpicking winners and losers for who will be protected from devastating economic impacts, and who will bear the brunt of her orders. If she will not operate with an even-hand toward all Oregonians, then the citizens of Oregon will exercise their authority to call her to account.
This lawsuit would not be necessary and could still be averted if the Governor would treat all businesses fairly.”