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Former Springfield, MO, Councilwoman Sues City of Branson Over Public Masking Law

— August 6, 2020

In her lawsuit, former Springfield Councilwoman Kristi Fulnecky claimed that Americans have a better chance of being struck by lightning than dying from COVID.

A former councilwoman in Springfield, Missouri, has filed a lawsuit against the City of Branson over a recently-enacted public masking law.

The lawsuit, writes the Springfield News Leader, was filed by former Springfield City Councilwoman Kristi Fulnecky.

Fulnecky has also initiated other legal actions seeking to derail coronavirus mitigation efforts. Before suing Branson, Fulnecky also filed suit against Springfield Public Schools for its fall “re-entry” plan, and is suing the City of Springfield for a masking ordinance.

According to the News Leader, the lawsuit against Branson includes two additional plaintiffs: Jamie Hall, the owner of Branson Etched Mugs, and Bo Dejager, of Foam Brothers.

Both Hall and Dejager told local news networks that Branson’s mask mandates will, somehow, affect their businesses.

“I don’t see it immediately,” Dejager said, “but I will see the after-effects when people are not wanting to expand and continuously wanting to build new homes and stuff where my services are needing.”

Named as defendants are both the City of Branson and the plurality of its councilmembers, who voted 4-1 in favor of a strict masking ordinance.

Speaking in Branson earlier this week, Fulnecky used weasel words and questionable claims to justify her lawsuit.

“Many businesses feel it was overreach, and the aldermen didn’t have the authority to pass such an overreaching ordinance,” Fulnecky said in a press conference at Branson’s city hall.

An illustration of the novel coronavirus, named Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), responsible for COVID-19. Image by CDC, via
An illustration of the novel coronavirus, named Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), responsible for COVID-19. Image by CDC, via

“I point out, you’re more likely to be struck by lightning than to do by COVID virus,” she said. “We don’t legislate when there’s infectious diseases like flu or tuberculosis, so my question is why are we doing it for COVID?”

Worth considering is that, in 2018, there were fewer than 10,000 tuberculosis cases in the United States. In contrast, more than five million coronavirus cases have been confirmed in the United States since March. While novel coronavirus tends to have relatively low case-fatality rates—especially among people under 60 years of age—control efforts are made both to save lives and to ensure hospitals are not overwhelmed with coronavirus patients.

Similarly, in an editor’s note, the Springfield News Leader observed that, on average, 27 Americans die each year after being struck by lightning, whereas 150,000 Americans have died from COVID-19 in the past several months.

Still, Fulnecky has characterized her cause as one enjoying broad support. Speaking on her Friday podcast, Fulnecky claims to have been contacted by at least 200 people—from across the entire state—celebrating her litigatory efforts.

Branson City Attorney Chris Lebeck said that, while the city has yet to be served the lawsuit, Fulnecky may want to reconsider the extent to which she’s trying to drum up publicity for her anti-masking drive.

“I hope Ms. Fulnecky has the opportunity at some point between her grandstanding in both the City of Branson and the City of Springfield to review Rule 4-3.6 of the Rules of Professional Conduct with regards to her ethical responsibilities as a licensed attorney with regards to pretrial publicity,” Lebeck said in a statement. “It is disappointing that she continues to not honor the integrity of our judicial system by her prejudicial pretrial comments.”

Fulnecky, adds, purportedly defended her legal actions and public comments as a common-sense reaction to “disagreement.”

“I mean, when you’re an elected leader, you know that if people don’t agree with your decision, and you don’t listen to your constituents, somebody is going to sue you,” she said.


Kristi Fulnecky announces lawsuit against city of Branson over masking ordinance

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