·  Legal News, Analysis, & Commentary

Lawsuits & Litigation

Nashville Restaurant Pushes Back Against COVID Restrictions with Federal Lawsuit

— September 23, 2020

The owners of Jonathan’s Grille are suing the city and health department over the COVID-19 restrictions devastating their business.

The owners of Jonathan’s Grille, a restaurant in downtown Nashville, is fed up with COVID-19 restrictions wreaking havoc on his business. As a result, the owners have decided to file a federal lawsuit against the city, alleging the restrictions are “violating their rights to earn a living.” The suit further states:

“Bar owners have faced economic devastation from the restrictions on capacity imposed by public health orders that are vague…businesses have been crippled by the overreaching, severe restrictions placed on restraints and bars in the name of ‘flattening the curve’…Defendants failed to use the least restrictive means to achieve the compelling government interest of ‘flattening the curve’ by not employing the authority and methods afforded under the law to control communicable disease, but instead issued Orders restricting businesses from conducting lawful business at normal capacity.”

COVID-19 graphic
COVID-19 graphic; image courtesy of padrinan via Pixabay,

Bars in the city and popular tourist destination have been hit with strict restrictions by the city’s health department since March. Over the summer, some of those restrictions have slowly begun to be rolled back and establishments like Jonathan’s Grille have been allowed to resume operation with masks and capacity limits. It’s important to note, however, that Jonathan’s Grille “is one of several Nashville establishments recently cited for violations of a citywide mask mandate.” The owners are part of another federal lawsuit to fight those citations.

As part of the recent suit against the city, the plaintiffs want a judge to chime in on whether city officials “overreached their authority in issuing and enforcing several public health orders related to limiting the spread of COVID-19.” Additionally, “because of their documented income losses, the plaintiffs are asking the court to decide whether their constitutional rights to earn a living have been infringed,” according to the suit. Part of the evidence includes news coverage that the “mayor’s office may have purposely withheld the number of cases linked to downtown bars.” According to the news coverage, city officials “attempted to keep the number of coronavirus infections linked to bars hidden because it is so low.” The news story surrounding the allegations has since been retracted, by that hasn’t stopped Kathryn Byrd, the attorney representing the plaintiffs, from saying something seems fishy. She added the retraction doesn’t change anything and said:

“My client is still suffering extreme financial implications from this. It still gives me reason to doubt what’s going on there because I don’t think a story like that would have been given so much attention just to be taken back. I still think the mayor’s office needs to be completely transparent about the data they’re releasing and that they’ve been basing their restrictions on for COVID-19.”

She also said:

“We think that even just operating at 50% is an extreme deprivation of the right to have and lawfully execute a business…We want to bring about everybody’s awareness to how this power, all of these orders have been enforced.”


Restaurant targets Nashville COVID-19 restrictions in lawsuit, cites false story on mayor’s office

Two Jonathan’s Grille locations file federal lawsuit against Cooper, Metro Health over COVID-19 restrictions

Join the conversation!