Bar owner in shutdown lawsuit looking forward to day in court

Thomas Peinhopf's lawsuit challenged the constitutionality of the government of Guam’s public health measures. (PNC file photo)

Closed for 242 days, business owners like Thomas Peinhopf are struggling to keep their livelihoods. He spoke with PNC, sharing that the federal lawsuit filed on behalf of nearly 100 island businesses on the brink of bankruptcy is not about the coronavirus but instead a cry for help to maintain jobs for tomorrow.

The business shutdown lawsuit filed in the District Court of Guam was brought forth by Thomas Peinhopf who says he is one of nearly 100 island business owners falling deeper and deeper into the red with each passing day that their doors are ordered closed. He says the federal court will decide if the case falls under a class action lawsuit, stressing that they are “in it to win it.”

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“Yes, there is a lawsuit. It’s ongoing this week and I believe it will reach the judge finally. We are hoping for a positive outcome and for acknowledgment of us being hurt, you know, and getting help from there because we believe it’s the right thing to do. And we believe somebody needs to stand up for a whole group of people and speak up,” Peinhopf said.

He added that businesses across the island are in constant communication with him, hopeful that the lawsuit is successful in providing adequate relief to local business owners.

“It needs to be a major bailout now. I mean we are now month 9 and we are assuming it’s going to be another 3 months to 6 months. You need to have a massive amount of money to bail out. Other countries are doing it. I was just talking about it with Regina from Old Traditions. And I know we are not in Europe, I understand, I know where we are and who we are. But we need to look at these positive examples of countries that can make it work,” Peinhopf said.

In Europe, Peinhopf said business owners are being provided up to 80 percent relief for lost revenue by the government in order to keep businesses alive.

“Because they understand what it means for their economy if those businesses are gone. We are not any different here. We should be trying to make it work,” Peinhopf said.

Businesses have been afforded relief funding under the CARES Act but Peinhopf says that is just peanuts and doesn’t create a dent in the rising expenses, which for his businesses are already $100,000 in the red.

He lamented that the government has turned a blind eye so far.

“Our message is: please walk in our shoes and try to understand what we are going through. We are not here to cry or complain, this is our livelihood. We need to live, we are only asking to survive and get help to survive which we haven’t received. And if anyone has questions about how a business works, please come and ask us, we can explain it to you and it will be an eye-opener to see what these people are going through,” Peinhopf said.

He stressed that in the end, it’s the jobs of tomorrow that are on the line.


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Jolene Toves
Jolene joined the PNC team in 2017, as a producer, co-anchor and investigative reporter covering law enforcement, courts and crimes. Notable coverage includes the Ehlert case, the Mark Torre Jr. trial, the Allan Agababa trial, exclusive pieces on the Life of a Drug Dealer/Addict, and Life behind bars...the story of Honofre Chargualaf and Kevin Cruz. In 2019, she was promoted to Assistant News Director and Lead Anchor. From 2015 to 2017 she served as Public Relations and Promotions Manager, for the Hotel Nikko Guam handling local radio and advertorial promotions, as well as produced and directed tv commercials for the hotel. Prior to this she worked with KUAM for three years as a reporter and segment host. She began her journalism career in 2012, working with Glimpses of Guam contributing to the Guam Business Magazine, R&R magazine, MDM magazine and the Marianas Business Journal.