KC restaurant owner files lawsuit asking for temporary restraining order on new COVID-19 rules

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A new lawsuit filed claims Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas and Jackson County Executive Frank White do not have the authority to close bars and restaurants early and impose other COVID-19 restrictions.

​Lucas says the lawsuit filed by the owner of The Blue Line restaurant won’t go anywhere and points out issues with the filing from the beginning.

“The misspelled name, the inclusion of Jackson County shows some of the sloppiness not only in the drafting of this lawsuit, but also in some of the argument,” Lucas said.

In the lawsuit filed Monday in the Jackson County court, Steven Stegal, the owner of the restaurant calls the COVID-19 restrictions imposed on the restaurant industry, arbitrary and unlawful orders. The lawsuit targeting White, Lucas and the jurisdictions they represent.

“We see people in here at 10 o’clock and they’re my same crowd that will be in here at midnight and everybody is obeying the rules which we understand we get COVID is real but like I have a doorman who sprays your hands, temperature checks you and make sure everybody is safe and everybody is wearing a mask inside when they’re going to the bathroom and make sure everything is covered,” Stegal said. “For somebody to come in and say hey you got to close at 10 because COVID gets there at 10 or is it 1030, is it 11, is it midnight? Johnson County thinks it’s midnight.”

“Time and again, courts in Missouri recently in St. Louis County earlier in Jackson County last spring in St. Louis County, and throughout Missouri, have consistently held that public health officials, elected officials have the opportunity to try and protect the public interest,” Lucas said.

While the lawsuit takes aim at several aspects of Kansas City’s most recent COVID-19 orders, it is focused around the 10 p.m. closing time of restaurants and bars.

“And a time when other jurisdictions St. Louis County, Chicago, Minnesota, entire states have closed down indoor dining and indoor consumption opportunities,” Lucas said. “I think Kansas City has tried to be reasonable and how it’s addressing these issues. It has been.”

Stegal says the same rules do not apply to other business groups like liquor stores, grocery stores and casinos where people congregate past 10 p.m.

“Why do we have to shut down, why are people at casinos able to smoke on the floor and walk around without masks on? The little guy businessman is subject to the check on 160 bars and they didn’t check any casinos, so we just be like we’re getting picked on,” Stegal said.

Lucas rejects the basis of this lawsuit, saying he expects the request for a temporary restraining order not to be granted and the case to be dismissed.

“We have worked with industry consistently, to talk about our orders to try to make sure that we’re coming up with orders that balance, public health issues, and certainly the rights of businesses,” Lucas said. “We’ve done that again, here, we’ve done a wonderful job with it. And I expect that is how this case will be resolved.”

Stegal said 40% of his monthly revenue at The Blue Line is made between 10 p.m. and 3 a.m. and he would be willing to split the difference and close at midnight.

“From 10 o’clock until midnight there’s no difference. I get from midnight to 3 a.m. people start getting sloppy and they just don’t use their head after they’ve been drinking and like I said to make sure everybody is complying,” Stegal said.

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