Wichita gym sues Kansas for compensation after being forced to shut down through unjustified lockdowns
By Arsenio Toledo // Dec 22, 2020

The owner of a fitness studio in Wichita, Kansas is suing the state for compensation after the establishment was forced to shut down due to economic restrictions imposed upon it due to the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.


Ryan Floyd of Omega Bootcamps Inc. filed the lawsuit in Sedgwick County District Court. Floyd argues that the state is using his business "for the benefit of the general public" when he was forced to shut down. Kansas' Emergency Management Law says that people are allowed to pursue claims for compensation if they believe their property was "commandeered or otherwise used" by local or state authorities.

"Use is exerting control, and control is shutting down the business, but they didn't just shut down the business. They meddled in the operations of gyms," said Ryan Kreigshauser, an attorney representing Floyd and Omega Bootcamps. "They said, 'You can open, but not in-person classes,' 'You can open, but you can't open your locker rooms.' And so, they were more invasive."

Floyd has worked in the fitness industry for over a decade now. He said that the shutdown and the lockdown restrictions placed upon his and other businesses are too harsh, and that they are all "suffering" because of it.

"You've seen other people in other states, other businesses in other states fight similar issues, but no one has fought it here in Kansas," said Floyd.

According to Kreigshauser, several other businesses in the state are fighting for their constitutional rights. Floyd's lawsuit, however, is unique because of how it focuses on the state's Emergency Management Law. (Related: Nebraska police will only enforce city's mask mandate if complaints are raised.)

State should be paying businesses for their time shut down

According to Kreigshauser, when Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly imposed a strict lockdown on the state, they should have also been paying businesses for their lost revenue.

"Our client basically had his business shut down, and it was shut down to cope with the COVID-19 disaster," said Kreigshauser. "And so, we're asking for compensation for that shutdown."

Kreigshauser is asking for a jury trial and for the appointment of a panel of appraisers who can determine without bias how much money Floyd lost during the entirety of the lockdown.

The attorney also mentioned that there is a lot of disparity when it comes to the distribution of aid money. Most of the relief that came from the CARES Act has gone to funding large businesses, whereas local businesses are being routinely ignored.

Floyd believes his case is strong, and he hopes that his lawsuit will cause a domino effect that will allow other small businesses in the state to receive aid that will help get them back on their feet.

"We are going to follow the guidelines also within that same law that states that we'll be compensated for it," said Floyd.

The Kansas Attorney General's Office said that they are currently reviewing the case, and therefore are unable to comment on active lawsuits.

A group of bar and nightclub owners in Wichita filed a federal lawsuit a few days before against several city officials and against the county. According to their lawsuit, the county's lockdown restrictions violate their Constitutional rights.

The county's current health orders limit the size of indoor gatherings, imposes a curfew on bars and restaurants and mandates the wearing of face masks. If the lawsuit is successful, all these restrictions will be rolled back and the restaurants and nightclubs will be allowed to operate almost the same way they did before the pandemic.

"What we want to have happen, is we want to be able to have our way of life and still be able to pay our bills and still be able to make a future after this is all over," said Steven Peters, the owner of a cocktail lounge. "Because let's be honest, this will be over and I think it's closer to being over. But we're barely hanging on."

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