The Journal Gazette
Friday, December 18, 2020 1:00 am

Bluffton eatery sues over mandate

Governor exceeded authority, suit alleges


A Bluffton barbecue spot that has been embroiled in controversy regarding COVID-19 mask mandates is taking the issue to court.

Yergy's State Road BBQ LLC has filed suit against the Wells County Health Department, Gov. Eric Holcomb and the state of Indiana, saying the restaurant was improperly closed for violating masking requirements and capacity limits. 

The suit was filed Tuesday in Wells Circuit Court by attorney Mark W. Rutherford of Thrasher, Buschman& Voelkel of Indianapolis.

The suit contends the Wells County health order was based on “improper Executive Orders” issued by the governor “outside the narrow scope of the Emergency Declaration Law.”

Therefore, the order is “without legitimate legal footing and should be declared unenforceable and set aside,” the suit says.

The restaurant was closed for violating health department orders in August. Wells County health officials said they had received repeated complaints about employees not wearing masks and had given the business verbal and formal warnings.

Yergy's appealed the ruling to the county health board, which sided with the health department, but removed language about capacity violations.

The suit alleges the governor's order is unconstitutional and caused “unjust injury to Yergy's fundamental civil rights, liberty interests and property rights.”

Further, the suit alleges that the lack of face coverings by healthy employees has not been shown “causative of disease” and “government generally may not uproot liberty on a hope that it can hide society from pathogens.”

Individuals, not government authorities, are the ones who decide “if the risk of walking out their front door is worth the potential reward.”

Holcomb has responded to the suit.

“We do our homework before we create executive orders,” he said. “I'm confident in my authority to set in place requirements that save Hoosier lives.” 

Niki Kelly of The Journal Gazette contributed to this story.

Share this article

Email story

Subscribe to our newsletters

* indicates required