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By BETH ZUMWALT
A group of 15 Pike County restaurant and bar owners lost a legal challenge to the state of Illinois shut-down of restaurants last year due to the COVID pandemic.
Plaintiffs in the case were: GV Pizza, Swartz and Swartz, Inc., Pamela Utterback, Stagecoach Inn, Teddy’s LLC., Cosmic Entertainment Complex LLC, Malisha Crowder, Wayne Puckett, Karen Puckett, J2 Beverages, Ed and Woodies-S and S INC, Nucci’s Pasta House, INC., Lindsays Too, INC., Lindsays Tavern, INC We-B Saloon,INC. and Patty L.Ruble.
The group filed the case last year in May. Judge Alan D. Tucker of Havana heard the case in August after Judge Frank McCartney was removed from the case. Walker Filbert, a Pittsfield attorney, represented the plaintiffs.
Jay Robert Prizker, governor and Alicia Tate-Nadeau, acting director of the Illinois Emergency Management agency were named as defendants in the case.
The petition was denied and the group filed an appeal with the Appellate Court. That petition was also denied, Dec. 28.
“We filed the suit on a narrow definition of the law,” Filbert said. “Section 7 of the law says that if the government seizes property during an emergency declaration, the owners of the property are entitled to compensation. We claim that by ordering the closure of the establishments, was the same as seizing them. The two courts disagreed.”
Filbert said the courts ruled the definition of the law says the government must physically take possession of the property.
“If they actually came in and took the property, the owners would be entitled to compensation,” Filbert said.
Filbert said the group had no basis to take the matter to the supreme court.
Patty L. Ruble, one of the plaintiffs, said she has no desire to continue with the litigation.
“I’m not surprised by the ruling,” she said. “I was willing to try it, but it’s over now.”
Filbert added the case had nothing to do with PPE money which most of the plaintiffs received as compensation for being shut down.
“PPE is federal money,” Filbert said. “This has nothing to do with that.”
Filbert said it is his belief the suit by the hospitality business in Pike County was the only one of its type filed in the state.
“I know of no other,” he said.