AG wants class action lawsuit against the governor, public health director dismissed

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Attorney General Leevin Camacho wants the federal court to dismiss a class action lawsuit filed by a local business owner against Governor Lou Leon Guerrero and DPHSS director Art San Agustin.

Thomas Peinhopf filed the complaint at the District Court of Guam last month over the governor’s executive orders and guidance restricting non-essential business activities because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

He is the owner of two local bars  — The Shady Lady and Livehouse.

Peinhopf wanted the court to declare the issuance of the business shutdown orders as “unconstitutional” according to documents filed in District Court. He also wanted a permanent injunction issued against the government, and to put a stop to the enforcement of shutdown orders against non-essential businesses.

In documents filed in District Court on Tuesday, Camacho said the measures
taken to prevent the spread of COVID-19 are constitutional and Peinhopf’s complaint should be dismissed.

He said governments faced with a public health emergency “may implement emergency measures that curtail constitutional rights so long as the measures have at least some real or substantial relation to the public health crisis and are not beyond all question, a plain, palpable invasion of rights secured by the fundamental law.”

According to Camacho, the Governor and DPHSS director “have taken measures to protect the public health and safety of the island’s residents, adopting a phased approach designed to be as flexible as possible, that depends on available data, science, and the public health infrastructure.”

Peinhopf filed the complaint on behalf of “all individuals or entities that have a possessory, ownership, or beneficial interest in any business or commercial entity on Guam that is deemed non-essential by the Government of Guam through order or guidance….”

The complaint stated that the Governor did not provide due process protections and did not allow exemption requests to the closure orders.

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