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Lawsuits successful in reopening Western New York businesses amid COVID restrictions

Restaurant
Posted at 5:55 PM, Dec 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-29 17:57:30-05

ERIE COUNTY, N.Y. (WKBW) — After months of challenges, businesses are finding success in the courtroom. Dozens of businesses are fighting COVID-19 restrictions, suing both state and local officials to reopen amid the pandemic, and they're winning.

"I think fear dominated everybody starting back in March. I think people are now looking at it and saying okay we need to do things that are smart but are we really being fair picking on certain businesses?" Corey Hogan, owner and partner at HoganWiling Law Firm, said.

HoganWiling is representing nearly 40 salons and 50 restaurants a battle for more fair restrictions.

Monday, a judge ruled the state must compromise on restaurant restrictions. If not, the state must provide scientific evidence as to why bars and restaurants may not remain open.

December 10th Hogan Wiling filed a lawsuit on behalf of more than two dozen salons and barber shops. December 11th, Governor Andrew Cuomo said gyms and salons could open with restrictions.

December 14th, Zoom Tan won a lawsuit, fully reopening their locations in Erie County's orange zone.

Athletes Unleashed also won December 23rd, opening at 100% capacity shortly after the owner was fined $15,000 for violating COVID-19 guidelines.

Hogan said the arguments are based on scientific evidence, that COVID-19 isn't spreading within these businesses.

"There has been no contact tracing evidence of any kind in Western New York tracing a single COVID-19 case to any of the salons we represent or any of the restaurants," Hogan said.

The firm is fighting to get Western New Yorkers' jobs back.

"I just need everything to go back to normal," Kaila Acker, a bartender at Pharaoh's Gentleman's Club said, "I'm hardly paying my bills. It's stressful. I couldn't buy any Christmas presents this year for my family so it's put a damper on things."

The club's president Peter Gerace said there hasn't been a single case of COVID-19 linked to the club.

"There was no reason to take away people's livelihoods. There was no reason at all to take away people's holidays and Christmases," Gerace said.