Around New England

Restaurant Owners File Lawsuit Claiming Massachusetts Governor Can’t Legally Shut Them Down

June 1, 2020

Several restaurant owners, hair dressers, and pastors have filed a lawsuit claiming that Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker’s executive orders drastically limiting their activities violate the state constitution.

“What you’re seeing is the practical effect of what happens when you don’t follow constitutional procedure,” said Michael DeGrandis, a lawyer with the New Civil Liberties Alliance, which is representing the plaintiffs, during a Zoom conference call Monday morning.

He said the complaint has been filed in Worcester Superior Court.

Carla Agrippino Gomes, a restaurant owner in the North End of Boston, said she and about 20 other restaurant owners are ready to open Friday, June 5 – three days before the governor’s scheduled beginning date authorizing restaurants to offer outdoor seating only for patrons.

“And not 25 percent, not 50 percent, but 100 percent,” Gomes said, referring to restaurants’ capacity.

Gomes said restaurant owners can figure out a way to provide a safe experience for their customers – and can do it better than state officials.

“Let us do our jobs. Because we know how to do them. They don’t,” Gomes said.

Lawyers for the plaintiffs argue that the coronavirus emergency doesn’t allow the governor to take the kind of executive control he has since mid-March because the state’s Civil Defense Act of 1950 doesn’t apply to a public health crisis.

DeGrandis said local boards of health are legally equipped and better suited to deal with health matters.

The Zoom conference call on Monday, June 1 was organized by the Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance.

This story is developing. New Boston Post will have an update late on Monday, June 1.