Local dance studio owners part of COVID-19 lawsuit against Ohio

Posted at 9:43 PM, Jun 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-24 23:38:09-04

CLEVELAND — A class-action lawsuit was filed against the State of Ohio in Lake County Common Pleas Court on June 22, on behalf of nine Ohio dance studio owners, claiming unconstitutional and overly restrictive COVID-19 measures caused them thousands in financial damage.

Attorney Gerald W. Phillips, who is representing the dance studio owners, told News 5 the lawsuit is seeking monetary compensation to be decided by a jury, due to continued lost business.

“It's the unlawful, illegal, unconstitutional actions of Amy Acton and Governor DeWine,” Philips said.

"It's an unconstitutional delegation of legislative authority, separation of powers, vagueness, criminalization.”

“These dance studio owners need just compensation for it, for the period in which they were closed completely, from March until just recently.”

"We’re going to get an injunction specifically, and those health commissioners will be in the lawsuit, they’ll be enjoined from enforcing those unconstitutional restrictions."

“How do you restore the damage from the fact that they created this fear among all Ohioans, and they won’t come back.So they’re going to suffer even afterward."

Angel Criado, owner of the Rhythm and Grace Dance Studios in Seven Hills, named in the lawsuit, told News 5 he's lost more than $30,000 since Ohio's COVID-19 shutdown started in March.

Criado said his losses continue even though the state allowed dance studios to partially open on May 26.

He believes Ohio's current COVID-19 restrictions are so tight some Ohio dance studios will go out-of-business in the coming months.

"It’s being presented we’re open, but the fact of the matter is we’re only allowed to do half or less of the capacity,” Criado said.

“We also have to increase our overhead to cover all of the new regulations that we previously never had."

Criado said he's hoping Ohio will soon give dance studios the coronavirus latitude it's given to more populated business sectors, like big-box stores.

“Never in an hour of time in our studio will we have more than 10 people,” Criado said

“Trying to tell us that Walmart, Target, Home Depot, Lowe's are safer to go to than our operation, where we are much more hands-on and able to take care of things.”

A copy of the lawsuit can be found here.

News 5 reached out to Ohio Governor Mike DeWine's office for comment on the lawsuit.

Spokesman Dan Tierney told News 5 the state declines to comment on this pending litigation.