17 Memphis limited-service restaurants sue Shelby County and health department over latest order to close

17 Memphis limited-service restaurants sue Shelby County and health department over latest order to close
Mid-South business headlines: Shelby County health directive clarifies bar closure, institutes more restaurant requirements (Source: WMC Action News 5)

SHELBY COUNTY, Tenn. (WMC) - More than a dozen businesses in the Mid-South are suing the Shelby County government and the health department after they were forced to shut down in a new health directive issued last week.

The order from the health department forced limited-service restaurants or bars to close after a spike in coronavirus cases countywide.

The Songstad Law Firm and the Spence Law Firm filed separate lawsuits on behalf of separate groups of limited-service restaurants.

Shelby County Health Dept. stands behind directive to close bars

According to one lawsuit, the case involving T.J. Mulligans, Rab Memphis, Hadley’s Pub, Tavern 018, Brewskis Sports Bar and Grill, Murphy’s Public House and Canvas of Memphis say the county violated the fifth amendment’s takings clause and substantive due process.

The takings clause is “designed not to limit the governmental interference with property rights per se, but rather to secure compensation in the event of otherwise proper interference amounting to a taking,” according to the court documents.

The remaining restaurants are suing for violation of substantive due process, violations of the equal protection clause of the fourteenth amendment and more.

Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris has responded to the lawsuits.

“Bar businesses are social settings and social distance is one of our strategies to slow the spread of COVID-19. We have to be honest that the numbers are going in the wrong direction and we have to layer additional protections. We have to ensure we have sufficient hospital capacity to treat those in need and we have to give comfort to our school leaders, kids, and families working on how and when to start school.”

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