Thousands of gym owners file lawsuit over phase 4 closure
A group of gym owners has officially filed a lawsuit against New York state.
Gym owners from across the state are committed to being part of the lawsuit, as they await the ability to reopen.
The group asked to receive the same treatment as any other place that shut down due to the pandemic.
"We are not asking for the governor to not respond to the pandemic. We are just asking for the same treatment that every other business is getting," says James Mermigis, of the Mermigis Law Group.
SC Fit Owner Charles Cassara is among those fighting back against Cuomo's decision to postpone the reopening of gyms. Cassara owns gyms in Farmingdale and Hicksville and is leading the charge in the class-action lawsuit, which also goes after the state attorney general.
"It's phase four. There's no phase five. There's nothing else to come after. So to be blanketed shut, to have to no guidance, to have no leadership to tell us where we're supposed to go, what we're supposed to do, that can't happen," says Cassara.
Cuomo bumped gyms from phase four after they were deemed unsafe to reopen due to fears that air conditioning system might recirculate the virus. But Mermigis and Cassara argue other establishments that are open aren't held to the same standard.
"How about the air-conditioning in a Target? How about the air conditioning in a Walmart? Why is air conditioning only relevant in a gym or a movie theater? So we want to be treated similarly to other businesses. That's what this lawsuit is about," says Mermigis.
Gym owners from Montauk to Buffalo have joined the suit. Their attorney is also filing an emergency injunction, which Mermigis says would allow gyms to open and to lift emergency orders.
"But we're going to give the attorney general and Gov. Cuomo an option. If he wants us to be shut down, pay us," says Mermigis.
On top of gyms, separate actions will be filed for CrossFit, Pilates and yoga studios.
The governor's office issued a statement, which says in part, "...There are some things that don't fit neatly into a phase that are going to require further study and we're going through that right now. We're not going to be like other states that are inviting a second wave."