Local business owner files lawsuit against Governor, Public Health director

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A local business owner has filed a class action lawsuit against Governor Lou Leon Guerrero and Art San Agustin, DPHSS director, over the government executive orders and guidance restricting non-essential business activities because of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Thomas Peinhopf filed the lawsuit on Tuesday. He is the owner of two local bars in Tumon — The Shady Lady and Livehouse.

Peinhopf wants the court to declare the issuance of the business shutdown orders as ‘unconstitutional’, according to documents filed in District Court.

He also wants a permanent injunction issued against the Government, to put a stop to the enforcement of shutdown orders against non-essential businesses.   

“This is a complaint for injunctive and declaratory as well as return of value taken from Plaintiff and a class of similarly situated individuals or entities. This complaint is brought by Plaintiff on behalf of himself and all other members of a class defined in this Complaint and all other similarly situated.” 

According to the complaint, the Plaintiff represents “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.

Protests in Tumon

Over the past month, local business owners held protests in Tumon and Agana to speak out against what they claim is the “unconstitutional” nature of the Governor’s orders.

The protesters called on the government to ease restrictions and be mindful of the impact on the local economy.

The spike in COVID-19 cases on island prompted the Governor to issue EO 2020-28 in August, ordering Guam residents to stop the spread of COVID-19 by staying home.

This was the second stay-at-home order issued by the Government in response to the rise in COVID-19 numbers on Guam.

The EO included limited exceptions such as obtaining food and household necessities; going to and from work at critical businesses; seeking medical care; caring for dependents or pets, or caring for a vulnerable person in another location.

All businesses other than those designated as “critical businesses” under DPHSS Guidance, were also ordered to close temporarily.