PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) — A judge has denied a request by the CEO Mountainside Fitness to throw out Gov. Doug Ducey’s executive order to close gyms.
Tom Hatten, founder and CEO of Mountainside Fitness announced last week that his company was planning to sue Arizona after Gov. Ducey ordered a one-month pause that will consist of the closures of businesses like gyms, bars and movie theaters. The executive order is an effort to slow down the spread of COVID-19.
Hatten’s company filed a notice of claim, which is a precursor to a lawsuit, against Gov. Ducey on Tuesday.
Hatten’s company filed a notice of claim, which is a precursor to a lawsuit, against Gov. Ducey. The court paperwork is seeking an injunction against Ducey’s closure order, calling it arbitrary and irrational.
The judge ruled Tuesday morning that Ducey’s executive was not irrational.
“The EO [executive order] clearly had a rational basis,” the ruling states.
The judge went on to say that Mountainside Fitness will not be irreparably harmed by the executive order and that Mountainside Fitness would “not likely prevail” in the lawsuit.
“The burden that Mountainside has is immense. The Governor does not have to prove that his decision was correct. This Court must give extreme deference to the EO [executive order]. The EO clearly had a rational basis. It is unlikely that Mountainside will prevail on the merits,” the ruling states.
Read the full ruling here.
In a press conference last week, Hatten admitted the seriousness of coronavirus.
Hatten added that his company wasn’t able to get any government assistance during the first shutdown because it has more than 500 employees. As a result, they had to find other ways to get help. Hatten said they depended on banking partners and landlords for assistance. He said they even started a funding program for employees who were suffering from the pandemic while they were out of work.
Hatten says that Mountainside Fitness has invited club members to wear masks if they so choose. He also stressed that his facilities have implemented social distancing. “From the workout facility to the cardio areas — make sure that everybody could be safe and still function in this environment just like they would in Safeway or Home Depot,” he said.
Hatten also emphasized his company understands how serious COVID-19 is and how he wants to partner strongly in fighting the virus, but doesn’t think shutting down businesses is the answer. “If it is truly as bad as what we are being told, I don’t think health clubs closing tomorrow will solve the problem. I don’t think closing a movie theater that hasn’t been open is going to solve the problem.”
Mountainside Fitness said in a press release after the ruling that they will close at 2 p.m. today to comply with the court’s decision, pending litigation.
A small step backwards today in the fight for equality for Mountainside Fitness and other businesses across Arizona who once again have been financially impacted by Governor Doug Ducey’s arbitrary shut downs.
On Tuesday an Arizona Superior Court Judge denied a stay of the Governor’s order from June 29th, that specifically ordered several health clubs, including Mountainside Fitness to close within 5 hours of the order.
Per the judge’s order today all 18 locations of Mountainside Fitness will temporarily close at 2pm today, July 7th pending an outcome in the civil litigation case brought forth by the state’s largest and locally owned fitness provider.