Butler County has joined three other counties to file a federal lawsuit to force reopening of businesses closed under Gov. Wolf’s order.
Plantiffs include Butler, Fayette Greene and Washington counties, several business owners, United States Rep. Mike Kelly and Pennsylvania state reps. Marcie Mustello, Daryl Metcalfe and Tim Bonner.
In addition to Wolf, Pennsylvania Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine is named as a co-defendant.
A release from the Butler County Board of Commissioners said:
“According to the lawsuit, the order Wolf and Levine issued on March 19, 2020, prohibiting the operation of all but life-sustaining businesses and subsequent phased plan to reopen businesses caused the complete shutdown of the plaintiff businesses, causing severe financial hardship and loss of the owners’ livelihood and use of property.
The lawsuit states the plaintiff counties were damaged due to the shutdown’s impact on their tax revenue, reputation and citizens, who have no access to legal representation with law offices being closed and rely upon the counties to protect their interests.
Wolf’s plan placed 27 counties in the northwest and northern central part of the state to enter the yellow stage, or first phase, as of May 8. Butler, Fayette, Greene and Washington Counties were not designated as being able to enter the yellow phase with no date set as to when that could occur. However, Clarion, Lawrence, Mercer and Venango counties, all of which border Butler County, are set to go to yellow on May 8.
According to the lawsuit, “It is clear that the coronavirus does not stop at or respect arbitrary boundaries such as county dividing lines.”
The lawsuit asserts the state’s orders also impact the Constitutionally protected activities of the named federal and state officials, including door-to-door campaigning and campaign rallies. The elected officials filed the suit as citizens, not in their representative capacities.
According to the lawsuit, the state’s plan to ease restrictions is unsupported by the available statistical data and health precautions recommended by the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and allows competitor businesses to those in the plaintiff counties to operate within the same zone. “
Several counties sue Gov. Wolf as others prepare to start reopening