Ventura County sues 5 businesses for defying shutdown, could sue 10 more
The county of Ventura has sued five businesses for continuing indoor operations despite local and state health orders, and it has been given permission by the Board of Supervisors to file suits against 10 more.
The county is seeking a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction against each business, but no monetary damages. Over the summer, the District Attorney’s Office filed similar charges against BSF Fitness in Ventura for staying open indoors, but ultimately sought monetary damages in addition to the restraining order.
On Jan. 8, Ventura County filed charges against four gyms and a restaurant: Oxnard Bootcamp, House of Gains, three Fitness 19 locations operated by the same owner and The Original Pizza Cookery in Thousand Oaks. All of the businesses were served with closure orders, demanding they stop operations entirely—not just indoors—and The Original Pizza Cookery also lost its permit to serve food.
“This is the last resort,” said County Counsel Michael Walker. “There’s been regular and ample outreach and education to all of the businesses, but especially those not in compliance.”
The 10 additional businesses the Board of Supervisors authorized legal action against include four Anytime Fitness locations, two additional Fitness 19 locations, a Gold’s Gym in Thousand Oaks, Mrs. Olson’s Coffee Hut in Oxnard, Allison’s Country Café in Ventura and Good Morning Café in Camarillo.
Walker said “ample assistance” is offered to businesses to help them get into compliance with local health orders, and the businesses the county is suing are those who have repeatedly refused that assistance.
While Dr. Robert Levin, the county’s public health officer, is a part of the lawsuit, Ventura County also sees the suits as part of keeping the business field level for everyone. By staying open indoors, the businesses that have been sued are taking advantage of competitors who have shut down their indoor operations.
“It’s unfair to all the other businesses that are in compliance with health orders,” Walker said.