Citing the mask mandates of both Governor Steve Bullock and the Missoula City Council, a Missoula couple is facing eviction for refusing to wear a mask when outside their home. Samuel and Amy Leal received the notice from their apartment complex’s attorney, claiming that they were in violation of Governor Bullock’s mask orders and therefore, would have to leave their home by August 17.
Originally of Duluth, Minnesota, Mr. and Mrs. Leal came to Missoula after he was terminated from his employment because a documented and diagnosed health condition prevented him from wearing a mask at his employment. Unfortunately, the Leals have not received better treatment in the Big Sky State. The couple decided to make a home in Montana’s perceived sanity amidst the national chaos, but they, unfortunately for them, chose Missoula to make their new home, which often maintains policies more akin to Southern California than the rest of the Rocky Mountain West.
Settling in the Mullan Reserve Apartments (pictured below), the Leals enjoyed the complex’s amenities, including a public clubhouse. But after being spotted without masks, they were notified by the property owner’s attorney that they would have to vacate the premises and surrender their lease.
The Law Office of Thomas C. Orr was retained by Roundhouse Management, who owns Mullan Reserve, to evict the couple, who it claims has been dismissive and in violation of the orders by Governor Steve Bullock and the Missoula City Council. Interestingly enough, the eviction notice through Thomas Orr even states, “You are also not allowed in public spaces other than as necessary while traveling your apartment and your automobile or mailbox without a mask.”
Calling COVID-19 a “dangeorus and highly contagious diseasee,” the hyperbolic letter says the restrictions were put in place for the Leals’ “own protection.” Furthermore, the letter insults Samuel Leal’s disability, claiming that his asthma is an “excuse.” Those with asthma are exempt from wearing masks nationwide due to the Americans with Disabilities Act, however, and wearing a mask with asthma is in fact many times deadlier than COVID-19.
Samuel Leal explained the situation on his Facebook page on Sunday, writing, “Mullan Reserve and their lawyer will not revoke their ‘Notice to Terminate for Lease Violation.’ They do not have legal authority to hold me in contempt because I have not done anything to violate the lease agreement. I simply mentioned that I have a medical condition and I am exempt. I should be allowed to go anywhere the lease says I can go.”
A review of the Leals’ lease indicates that they have broken no part of their agreement with Roundhouse Management, and there is not a clause within the lease in regard to wearing masks.
A YouTube video has been circulating in social media in which an unnamed citizen reporter called the Thomas Orr lawfirms and asked about their eviction of Samuel and Amy Leals, at which point a reception repeatedly said they had no comment (see below).
Governor Steve Bullock, who has mandated masks despite Montana being the least-effected state in the lower-48 by coronavirus, has repeatedly said he was advocating to keep Montanans from becoming homeless during the ‘pandemic.’ Bullock has provided for rental assitance from federal relief aid given to the state by Washington and limited the ability of property owners to collect rent.
But now, families are being evicted from their home because they are making their own health choices. One wonders if Governor Bullock will stop to consider the irony of people with health vulnerabilities being kicked out into the street during a health panic because wearing a mask isn’t the right choice for them.