Federal judge denies Sandbar’s request for injunction against health order limiting bars’ hours
photo by: Nick Krug/Journal-World File Photo
A judge on Thursday denied a request from the owner of a downtown Lawrence bar to prevent enforcement of a health order that restricts the hours that bars can be open amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Peach Madl, longtime owner of the Sandbar, 17 E. Eighth St., filed a lawsuit in federal court last month against Lawrence-Douglas County Health Officer Dr. Thomas Marcellino for an order he issued. The order requires establishments that have liquor licenses to stop serving all food and drink at 11 p.m. and to close at midnight.
Madl had asked the court to issue a preliminary injunction to cease enforcement of the order while the case is pending, but in a written order Thursday, U.S. District Judge Eric F. Melgren denied that request.
The ruling stated that Madl does not have a constitutionally protected property interest in the bar’s liquor license, and therefore the judge did not have to analyze whether the business owner was afforded due process before the county put the order in place.
The county is grateful for the judge’s order, according to a statement that George Diepenbrock, a spokesperson for Lawrence-Douglas County Public Health, sent to the Journal-World Thursday afternoon.
“Every action we have taken through the authority of the health officer during this pandemic has been to protect the health of this community, and this work will continue until COVID-19 is no longer a broad threat to Douglas County residents,” the statement read.
The judge’s ruling comes following a surge in new cases of COVID-19 locally and statewide, as the Journal-World has reported. However, the court’s ruling focuses on the legal issues and does not mention the virus.
The rest of the lawsuit is still pending, and online court records did not yet indicate the next hearing date in the case. A similar case, filed by the owner of Paradise Saloon in Douglas County District Court, was still under consideration as of Thursday, online court records indicated.
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