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Federal lawsuit filed against W.Va. Governor’s office and some county officials for restaurant mask mandate

Published: Sep. 15, 2020 at 6:59 PM EDT
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PUTNAM COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) – A federal lawsuit has been filed against the West Virginia Governor’s office and some Putnam County government officials for an incident earlier this year involving a Hurricane restaurant.

According to attorney John Bryan, the lawsuit alleges that Bridge Cafe & Bistro was deprived of business from government officials allegedly overstepping their constitutional boundaries regarding the restaurant’s policy of wearing masks.

“We are seeking money damages and attorney’s fees for First Amendment retaliation, after Putnam County threatened my clients with closure in response to their Facebook post expressing their opinions and policies pertaining to the Governor’s mask mandate,” Bryan wrote.

Bryan said the lawsuit, which was filed Tuesday, seeks monetary damages and attorney fees.

He told WSAZ that both he and Bridge Cafe & Bistro owner, Andrew Stewart, wanted to take the lawsuit a step further.

“We are also suing the Governor and asking the Court to declare the mask mandate, as well as the “Stay at Home Order” unconstitutional and unenforceable. We believe it’s unconstitutional under the First Amendment, as the mask debate has become just that - political speech.”

“We just want to make sure that our voices are heard,” Stewart told WSAZ. “We don’t believe what’s going on is right, the way that we are being treated by the government, it’s infringing on our rights.”

WSAZ spoke with the Governor’s General Counsel, Brian Abraham, who said they haven’t been served yet with the lawsuit and will not comment until they’ve had the chance to review it.

The Putnam County Commission also said they haven’t received the paperwork yet but will take it under advisement once they do, and the Putnam Health Department had no comment at this time.

We will have more on this developing story. Keep checking the WSAZ app for the latest information.

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