Court rules for plaintiffs against Beshear

State forced to pay plaintiffs' legal fees of $272,142 over unconstitutional ban of church services due to COVID


CINCINNATI (KT) - Kentucky state government will have to pay $272,142.50 in legal fees to plaintiffs who sued Gov. Andy Beshear over his COVID-19 lockdown policies. The federal appeals court rendered that decision on Monday.

Three plaintiffs — Randall Daniel, TJ Roberts and Sally O’Boyle — sued the Beshear administration related to orders to quarantine after they attended a 2020 Easter church service. The three were awarded attorneys’ fees by the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.

While Beshear is named in the lawsuit, the fees will be paid from public taxpayer funds.

Beshear issued an executive order on March 19, 2020, banning mass gatherings — “including, but not limited to, community, civic, public, leisure, faith-based, or sporting events; parades; concerts; festivals; conventions; fundraisers; and similar activities.” Two days before Easter (April 10, 2020), Beshear announced authorities would be recording the license plates of those attending mass gatherings in Kentucky, and license plate information would be given to local health departments, which would then visit people at their homes and order them to quarantine for 14 days. Those receiving the quarantine orders would also be told their actions constituted a misdemeanor offense for violating Beshear’s COVID-19 executive orders.

The three plaintiffs attended an Easter service at Maryville Baptist Church in 2020, and received notices from officials who knew they attended that day and warned them of future “enforcement measures.”

In May 2020, Judge David Hale of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Kentucky ruled in favor of the plaintiffs and allowed Maryville Baptist Church to hold in-person worship services.

U.S. Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) tweeted, “Kentucky Gov. Beshear nailed for plaintiffs’ attorneys’ fees over his unconstitutional ban of church services due to COVID. Too bad it comes out of the taxpayers’ pockets and not his.”

Roberts, one of the plaintiffs, applauded the court’s decision. He tweeted on Monday, "I know a lot of people who are outraged that the taxpayer is on the hook for Andy’s violation. I share this outrage, but this outrage must be aimed at Beshear.”

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