Lincoln business owners to file lawsuit over health mandates

A group of local business owners plans to file a class action lawsuit against the City of Lincoln over health mandates, their attorney said. 

LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) – A group of local business owners plans to file a class action lawsuit against the City of Lincoln over health mandates, an attorney said.

Chris Ferdico, an attorney with Berry Law, told Channel 8 Eyewitness News the lawsuit would seek to show the mandates as invalid under Nebraska and Constitutional law.

It would also examine whether the city could be held liable for financial damages suffered by the businesses as a result.

Ferdico said several business owners who “run the gamut” have expressed interest in participating.

“Ballpark? More than a dozen,” he said.

Ferdico currently represents Ben Madsen, general manager of Madsen’s Bowling & Billiards, who faces a misdemeanor charge of violating a closure order by the Lincoln Lancaster County Health Department. Ferdico says a hearing has scheduled in September during which he hopes to get the charge dismissed.

Madsen’s refusal to follow local directed health measures drew intense media attention. Lincoln police enforced a health department-mandated shutdown earlier this month.

Two bars – Longwell’s and Iguana’s Pub – and the Railyard area were also closed by health officials for violations.

“A lot of businesses are getting harassed,” Ferdico said, adding that the health measures have caused “a lot of trepidation” for business owners already feeling the economic impact of COVID-19.

He said the earliest any legal action might be taken would be Monday, as he and his clients await announcements about health measures from Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird during her pandemic briefing Friday afternoon.

Ferdico said the City Attorney’s Office is aware of the pending litigation. A request for comment to City Attorney Yohance Christie was not immediately returned Friday morning.

Ferdico declined to speculate on how much his clients might seek in financial damages.

“If I were a betting man, I’d say it would be a large number,” he said.

Last week, a 64-year-old Lincoln man filed a lawsuit against the State of Nebraska, Gov. Pete Ricketts, Lincoln and Omaha and their respective mayors and public school districts over what he called coronavirus “nonsense.”

The case had not been heard by a judge as of Friday.

Categories: Coronavirus, Lancaster, Top Stories