Judge Dismisses Attorney’s Suit Over 2020-21 Outdoor Dining Ban

LOS ANGELES (CNS) – A lawsuit filed by a downtown restaurant owned by attorney Mark Geragos against Los Angeles County regarding the county’s former temporary ban on outdoor dining to fight the coronavirus was dismissed by a judge today.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Stephanie Bowick granted the county’s motion to dismiss the suit brought in November 2020 by Mark’s Engine Co. No. 28 Restaurant LLC, alleging right to liberty under the state constitution.

The county’s temporary ban on outdoor dining went into effect on Nov. 25, 2020, after restaurants such as Geragos’ Figueroa Street business had already spent considerable time and money “pivoting their business models to comply with and accommodate the myriad health and public safety orders already promulgated by local and state authorities,” the suit stated.

“On the precipice of the holiday season — one of the busiest times of the year for Los Angeles-based restaurateurs — (the county) brought further misery to an already beleaguered industry that has experienced unprecedented suffering over the preceding nine months,” according to the suit.

The county’s “ill-conceived order actually had the unintended effect of further spreading the virus by effectively forcing businesses, such as plaintiff’s, to lay off or furlough employees who then likely further congregated and clustered with family and friends where the rate of the spread of the COVID-19 virus has been much higher than from outdoor dining,” according to the suit.

The county’s outdoor dining ban was lifted in late January 2021.

In their motion to dismiss the restaurant’s case, lawyers for the county argued that during a three-week period beginning on Nov. 1, 2020, the number of new daily COVID-19 infections surged by more than 130%, new COVID-related hospitalizations by more than 200%, and that daily deaths associated with the coronavirus more than doubled.

“Public health officials in the county were forced to take swift action to combat this crisis,” the county’s’ lawyers stated in their court papers. “They issued a series of public health orders, including, as pertinent here, a temporary suspension of outdoor restaurant dining.”

The Second District Court of Appeal reviewed the health order and upheld it, yet Geragos’ business insisted on “proceeding with its meritless claims,” the county’s attorneys further argued in their court papers.

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