LA restaurant owner sues Newsom to stop statewide outdoor dining ban

Attorney in federal suit alleges “science isn’t driving the government decisions” as Covid cases spike

Los Angeles /
Dec.December 23, 2020 08:05 AM
Gov. Gavin Newsom’s executive order to stem the spread of Covid-19 has effectively shuttered outdoor dining for nearly all restaurants in California (Getty, Google Maps)
Gov. Gavin Newsom’s executive order to stem the spread of Covid-19 has effectively shuttered outdoor dining for nearly all restaurants in California (Getty, Google Maps)

A Sherman Oaks restaurant owner is suing to stop the statewide ban on outdoor dining, calling it unconstitutional and not backed by science, as Covid-19 cases continue to surge in California.

Angela Marsden, who owns Pineapple Hill Saloon & Grill, filed the federal lawsuit, according to the Los Angeles Times. Her legal team includes noted attorney Mark Geragos, who also owns a restaurant in downtown L.A.

The suit comes as nearly 13,000 new coronavirus cases were reported on Tuesday in Los Angeles County alone, and as California is expected to extend its stay-at-home order through the holiday season.

Geragos called L.A. County “the world epicenter of Covid because science isn’t driving the government decisions; lobbyists are,” according to the Times. “Tragically, tens of thousands of small businesses are the ones who pay the price.”

On Dec. 8, a Superior Court judge tentatively struck down the county’s outdoor dining ban, saying it shouldn’t be allowed to continue indefinitely without a risk-benefit analysis to justify it. The California Restaurant Association had sued the county over the ban, an effort also led by Geragos. Judge James Chalfant called the countywide restaurant closure “an abuse of the department’s emergency powers” and one he said was “not grounded in science, evidence, or logic.

But the outdoor dining ban continues, superseded by the governor’s statewide executive order concerning Covid restrictions. That kicks in when intensive care bed capacity at hospitals falls below 15 percent. Last week, ICU bed availability in Southern California reached 0 percent, according to the Times.

The order has been in effect since early December, with most of the state subject to it. Most retail businesses are limited to 20 percent of indoor capacity, while some businesses must close altogether, including hair and nail salons.

Marsden’s lawsuit noted that a movie production was allowed to continue near Pineapple Hill. The production included an outdoor tent where meals were provided to “a team of employees and contractors,” it said. The state has said movie production is essential business and could continue. [LAT] — Alexi Friedman 


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