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Ohio Bridal Shop Owner Pushes Back Against Stay-Home Orders with Federal Suit

— April 20, 2020

In Columbus, Ohio, a bridal shop owner is suing Ohio Health Director, Dr. Acton over her stay-home orders implemented to combat COVID-19.

A bridal shop owner in Columbus, Ohio recently decided to file a federal lawsuit challenging the state’s stay-home order issued by Ohio Health Director, Dr. Acton. As part of the state’s stay-home order to combat COVID-19, businesses deemed non-essential were forced to shutter across Ohio. However, the suit, which was filed by Tanya Rutner Hartman, argues the stay-home order violates the constitution. The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court and names Acton as the defendant.

Columbus, OH
Columbus, OH; image courtesy of 12019 via Pixabay,

Hartman is the owner of Gilded Social LLC, the bridal shop that was forced to close. She is being represented by “attorneys from the 1851 Center for Constitutional Law, a Columbus organization that bills itself as dedicated to protecting the constitutional rights of Ohioans.” So far, her case is the first to challenge the controversial orders, and likely will not be the last.

Ohio’s stay-home order was issued back on March 23 and declared that “all non-essential businesses and operations must cease to help counteract the coronavirus.” On April 2, the order was modified so that a violation “could result in a second-degree misdemeanor charge, which carries a fine of $750 and up to 60 days in jail.”

Hartman’s lawsuit argues that order is violating her constitutional rights because she, and many other bridal shop owners, “are not being afforded any meaningful legal due process to challenge the criteria for what the state considers an essential business.” It states:

“The department and its director claims the authority to criminalize ‘non-essential business’ as defined, if defined at all, solely by the department and director.”

The suit further notes that while bridal shops have been deemed non-essential, other businesses like marijuana shops, liquor stores, the lottery, and dry-cleaning services are deemed essential by the Ohio Health Department. When commenting on the effect the order has had on her business, Hartman said that because “she is underwriting her business with a large home equity line…the state’s forced closure of her business needlessly threatens her home as well as her livelihood.”

For now, Hartman’s clients have been visiting her shop by appointment only. In filing the suit, she wants the U.S. District Court in Columbus “to issue a temporary restraining order and preliminary and permanent injunctions to end Acton’s orders mandating that non-essential businesses cease.” Additionally, the suit is asking the judge to “find that Acton’s orders violated the U.S. Constitution by failing to provide due process.”

On Thursday, Gov. Mike DeWine (R) said the state was looking to gradually open more businesses starting May 1.


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