As Governor Steve Bullock makes plans to slink out from his seat of power and takes his corrupt soul with him, we can think of few better parting gifts than for him to look on helpless as his plot to enact political payback against Sykes Diner has come to ruin, with a judge coming down hard on the government’s controversial attempts to shut down five businesses and impose their wicked will.
On Thursday afternoon, Flathead County District Court Judge Dan Wilson heard testimony from representatives of the Montana 5: Your Turn Mercantile and Last Turn Casino, Scotty’s Bar, Remington Bar, Ferndale Market, and Sykes Diner arguing their case. The group prevailed, with Judge Wilson ultimately ending up giving the squinty eye to the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS) for their efforts to shut down these businesses.
As one might expect, the DPHHS argued that the businesses weren’t being insistent enough in protecting workers and patrons, asking for a court order to force them to comply or close down. The businesses, for their part, argued that they are enforcing it to the extent that they can, but that they don’t have the labor and legal obligation to investigate everyone who may fall under the exemptions, such as anyone with a health condition that excludes them from complying. They say they’re were doing their best to stay afloat and take reasonable steps to ensure no one gets trampled over.
The judge agreed. At the end of the hearing on Thursday, Judge Wilson ruled that the state didn’t have the evidence to prove that the businesses at the heart of this skirmish violated mask directives, writing: “I’m denying each of these applications for a preliminary injunction as to each of these defendants.”
The judge further informed the court that he found no evidence that the businesses weren’t being diligent in seeking to have employees and customers wear masks, announcing that the five Businesses in questioning were making a “reasonable effort” to comply with the order, despite the claims of the state.
It was mentioned repeatedly that of the nearly 700 complaints that the Flathead City-County Health Department fielded about businesses not following the restrictions, these five infamous businesses made up less than 15% combined, and that not a single case of the novel coronavirus has been directly linked or tied back to any of them. In fact, in the month of November there has been an average of 110 new COVID cases every day, none to do with these guys.
Though the case has the chance to move up to the Montana Supreme Court, Judge Wilson waggled his finger at the DPHHS and warned them that while the denial of the injunction doesn’t mean the case is finished for good, if they continue to pursue the case without new and better evidence, the case will likely be dismissed again and the defendants will be awarded court fees and attorney costs for good measure.
Keep on walking, Bullock. No rubbernecking here.