Several New Mexico businesses have filed a lawsuit against Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and two Cabinet secretaries, claiming threatened civil penalties for violations of emergency health orders are not authorized by the state’s Public Health Emergency Response Act.
The state Republican Party helped organize the lawsuit — which was filed in the 9th Judicial District in Curry County — and is paying the legal costs associated with filing it, a spokesman for the party said.
“This is unconstitutional,” Republican Party of New Mexico Chairman Steve Pearce said in a news release. “Gov. Lujan Grisham doesn’t have the executive power to threaten and fine establishments under the law. Her actions are devastating our economy and killing locally owned businesses in our state. There’s been no common sense and no equity in the governor’s order, and innocent business owners are being threatened, feeling the financial pain and losing their livelihoods.”
K-Bob’s Steakhouse in Clovis; Frontier Auto Inc. and Body & Sol Fitness in Lovington; Monroe’s Restaurants in Albuquerque; Kemp’s Investments and Colfax Tavern & Diner in Colfax County; J.Jones Massage in Hobbs; the owners of the businesses; and several individuals filed the lawsuit against Lujan Grisham, Department of Public Safety Secretary Mark R. Shea and Department of Health Secretary Kathy Kunkel, who are named as defendants.
In the lawsuit, they claim threatened civil penalties up to $5,000 per day for violations of the emergency orders are not authorized by the Emergency Response Act except perhaps as sanctions against people who are the subject of public health orders to quarantine or self-isolate.
The plaintiffs are asking a state District Court judge to declare the threatened civil penalties don’t apply to businesses or individuals that violate the emergency orders and forbid the state from imposing or threatening to impose them.
The lawsuit also asks for legal costs and any other relief the court finds appropriate.
In the alternative, the plaintiffs ask the court to declare the plaintiffs are owed damages for lost revenues as called for in the “just compensation” clause of Emergency Response Act.
The Governor’s Office did not respond to an email seeking comment Thursday.