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Las Vegas gym follows protest with lawsuit over business shutdown

Updated May 20, 2020 - 5:50 pm

A gym in northwest Las Vegas that was the site of a coronavirus shutdown protest has filed a lawsuit against Gov. Steve Sisolak and the Metropolitan Police Department.

According to the lawsuit, filed Tuesday, the owners and employees of CrossFit Apollo on North Buffalo Drive were conducting a staff meeting last week when two police officers entered the gym and discussed the governor’s most recent order, which allowed certain businesses to reopen but precluded gyms, bars, gaming establishments and entertainment venues.

One of the officers told the owners, Chad Cole and his mother, Monica, that they could lose their business license and be arrested if they opened as intended May 15, according to the suit.

“Why don’t you care about people?” one of the officers asked.

Police then issued the Coles a warning, “even though Crossfit Apollo was not even open for business,” the suit stated.

Attorney Craig Mueller filed the lawsuit in Clark County District Court on behalf of the gym.

“The conduct of Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department’s officers or employees or agents or representatives or contractor’s was a direct consequence of defacto policies and practices implemented, condoned, fostered and tacitly sanctioned by defendant, Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, which reflect a willful indifference to Plaintiffs’ constitutional rights,” the suit stated.

Metro officials declined to comment on the complaint.

Sisolak has said the state would not have enough data on whether to move forward with further easing restrictions until the end of the month.

The Coles contend in their lawsuit that there was no need for the continued business shutdowns because the state did not have a shortage of hospital beds, ventilators, personal protective equipment or COVID-19 testing.

“Governor Steve Sisolak had no legal authority to act in ordering isolation or quarantine of citizens and closure of businesses,” the lawsuit stated.

On Monday, the Coles hosted a public workout in the parking lot outside the gym, gathering dozens of people, none of whom appeared to wear protective masks or practice social distancing. Chad Cole told a Las Vegas Review-Journal reporter covering the protest that he and his mother were still deciding whether to risk their business license and attempt to reopen before the end of the month.

Church files suit

In a separate lawsuit filed Wednesday in federal court, a Las Vegas church sued the governor, Attorney General Aaron Ford and Justin Luna, the state’s emergency management chief.

The complaint filed on behalf of Calvary Chapel Lone Mountain on North Rancho Drive and its parishioners alleges that the governor was wrong to force the church to close.

“The designation of essential vs non-essential business was based on the services the business rendered, not business capacity, public health or empirical data,” attorneys Joey Gilbert and Sigal Chattah wrote in the lawsuit.

The complaint adds that “the arbitrary and capricious quarantine of all Counties in the State of Nevada, failing to quarantine Covid-19 positive only individuals and instead quarantining all individuals regardless of whether they were positive or not, or whether the Counties had incidents of Covid-19 was arbitrary and unsupported by any empirical data to substantiate such actions.”

State officials have repeatedly declined to comment on pending coronavirus litigation.

Contact David Ferrara at dferrara@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-1039. Follow @randompoker on Twitter.

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