The businessman who sued GovGuam for its business restriction measures said he has counted at least 55 local businesses shutting down for good as a result of mounting debts and zero revenues.
Thomas Peinhopf is the owner of Livehouse and Shady Lady, two local bars which, like many other non-essential businesses, have been shut down. Allowed to operate briefly in July, bar owners had to shut down again on August 7th despite protests from bar owners.
Governor Lou Leon Guerrero’s Executive orders meant that Peinhopf’s livelihood and the livelihoods of his employees and many others similarly situated were stripped away.
“We don’t live fancy lifestyles, I think there’s a total misinterpretation of what a business owner means. Right now, we aren’t owning anything. It’s a piece of paper that says you own a business because there is none. It’s debt payments worries. Right now, I keep myself busy with this case because we have no more leg to stand on,” Peinhopf said.
The class action lawsuit states, “The Business Shutdown Orders decree an ability to control the movement of residents of Guam and to order that citizens of the Territory not utilize their private property, without providing the citizens prior notice nor an opportunity to be heard and without providing just compensation.”
Peinhopf says the business shut down order prohibited businesses that the governor determined were not essential from operation in their normal manner at their physical locations. Operating in violation of the order results in penalties and possible police action. This is not fair, as Peinhopf said, citing other businesses like Home Depot, Payless Supermarkets, medical clinics and law offices are allowed that are allowed to operate. He says small businesses like his are at a breaking point despite the financial assistance made available as their doors have been closed for 196 days and counting.
“This is the last chance , the last cry out for survival for some many many have already closed. Those jobs are gone forever. It’s going to take a long time to recover this and this is the last cry for help,” Peinhopf said.
The class-action lawsuit contends that business owners like Peinhopf should not be forces to endure destruction of their businesses while owners are obligated to prove that Leon Guerrero and San Agustin have taken these plaintiffs’ property without the payment of just compensation in violation of the 5th Amendment rights and due process of law.
Peinhopf is demanding trial and is asking the federal court to issue a permanent injunction to prevent the governor and Public Health from enforcing the business shutdown order as it stands. He is also asking for compensation for himself and other business owners similarly affected.