Business owners who sued Mills over pandemic restrictions to appeal dismissal

Some of the business owners who challenged Gov. Janet Mills’ restrictions on reopening have filed a notice that they plan to appeal dismissal of their lawsuit.

The owners filed a federal lawsuit against Mills, asking a judge to declare the restrictions on their operations during a pandemic unconstitutional. But District Court Judge Lance Walker dismissed the suit two weeks ago, saying the business owners had failed to state a claim for which they could be given relief.

In the notice, lawyers say three of the 11 who sued were filing the appeal. No reason is given for not including the others.

Among those who sued but is not included among those listed as appealing is Rick Savage, who owns Sunday River Brewing Co.. Savage reopened his brewpub on May 1 in defiance of Mills’ order that allowed him and most other restaurants to reopen on June 1. He temporarily lost some state licenses as a result of that early reopening.

Savage was a public face of those challenging Mills’ orders, appearing on Fox News to say he planned to defy the rules.

The notice of appeal, filed Thursday, does not need to set out the reasoning for the appeal to the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston. The rationale will likely be explained in briefs that lawyers for the business owners will file and a response by Mills’ lawyers. The court may schedule oral arguments, but those are typically held months after the appeal is filed.

Stephen Smith, the lawyer for the business owners, did not reply to an email Friday night seeking more information.


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