Rutland gym owner promises to keep fighting forced closure
RUTLAND, Vt. (WCAX) - A Vermont judge has dismissed a lawsuit between the state and a Rutland fitness club that tried to defy the governor’s executive order, but the gym’s owner says he may continue the legal fight.
Sean Manovill re-opened his gym, Club Fitness in Rutland back in May, against Governor Phil Scott’s COVID emergency order. The Vermont Attorney General’s office filed a motion for a preliminary injunction against the gym but withdrew it after the governor allowed the reopening of gyms a few days later. Manovill countersued, claiming the state violated the state constitution with an “unlawful taking” of his business, but the judge this week ruled Manovill failed to prove that claim.
“Defendants [Club Fitness and its owner] appear not to recognize the reality of COVID-19, the state of emergencies that have been announced throughout the country, and the attempts by courts at all levels to address situations similar to the present case,” Vermont Superior Court Judge Robert Mello said in his ruling.
“I’m not saying that we didn’t have a health emergency. I don’t want for anyone to ever think that I would do anything to harm others. I just think that at some points, as adults, we need to make our own decisions about our lives. Adults can make a decision to go into a store or not go into a store. People have that right to wear a mask or not wear a mask," Manovill said.
Over the next few days, he says he will be talking with his lawyer about a possible appeal. He says it’s not fair for a small group of people to decide what all businesses in the state needed to do during the pandemic. He hopes other small businesses can get retribution by him taking his fight further.
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