Jeff Jubelirer/Bellevue Communications Group
Contact: Jeff Jubelirer, JJubelirer@bellevuepr.com, +1-215-893-4279
Business Owner Sues Pennsylvania Governor on Behalf of Employees
Suit Claims Shutdown Unconstitutionally Takes Wages and Property
March 27, 2020, Hatfield, Pa. —Schulmerich Bells LLC and several of its employees today announced that they have filed a lawsuit against Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf seeking just compensation for damages caused by the Governor’s March 20th order to close all businesses that are “non-life-sustaining.” The suit seeks class action status to represent other similarly situated businesses and individuals in the Commonwealth whose property and jobs were seized without compensation.
The case, filed yesterday in federal court in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, claims that by ordering Schulmerich Bells to cease operations, Governor Wolf executed a categorical regulatory taking of the business owner’s property and the employees’ wages and right to earn a living in violation of the 5th Amendment to the U.S Constitution.
“Under threat of criminal penalties, denial of access to disaster funding and monetary fines, Governor Wolf shut our doors,” said Schulmerich Chairman Jonathan Goldstein. “He denied us access to our equipment, our inventory, our tools and our real estate. In so doing he forced the layoff of our employees despite their readiness and willingness to work, and despite the fact that we are in the process of fulfilling orders at the beginning of our busiest season. Now we are suing on our mutual behalf.”
The Fifth Amendment’s “Takings Clause” says that private property may not be “taken for public use, without just compensation.” In the 1992 U.S. Supreme Court case Lucas v. South Carolina, the court found that the Takings Clause applies when a regulatory action deprives a property owner of, “all economically beneficial uses [of property] in the name of the common good.”
Goldstein alleges that through the March 20 executive order, Governor Wolf is denying all economically beneficial uses of the handbell manufacturer’s property for the period of time the business is closed by government order.
“The order to close was for a wholly public purpose — protecting public health,” said Goldstein. “The government can’t demand that private parties like our business and our workforce bear the cost of this public benefit without just compensation.”
“We are in this together with our employees. It was devastating to our people to be laid off; it was devastating to me to have to do it; and it was devastating to us all to see a perfectly healthy business ordered closed – with the use of our property and equipment denied to us by regulatory fiat – with no compensation whatsoever. We’re going to fight for their right to earn a living and for our right to be compensated when the government compels us for a public purpose to stop using our own property.”
The lawsuit is being handled by Goldstein Law Partners, LLC – www.goldsteinlp.com.
Jonathan Goldstein is available for comment, at firstname.lastname@example.org or +1-610-949-0444. To schedule an interview, please contact Jeff Jubelirer, at JJubelirer@bellevuepr.com or +1-215-893-4279.
- Hatfield handbell manufacturer sues over coronavirus closure, Bucks County Courier Times
- Pa. Gov. Wolf’s Order Closing Businesses During COVID-19 Outbreak Violates Takings Clause, Lawsuit Claims, The Legal Intelligencer
- Philly will use Temple Liacouras Center for Coronavirus overflow space; first COVID-19 cases in city jails reported,WHYY
- Small Businesses Sue Pa. Over COVID-19 Closure Order, Law360
- Closing our business to stop the coronavirus violated our employees’ rights, lawsuit claims, MarketWatch
- This Business Is Suing the Government Over a Coronavirus Closure Order, Reason Magazine
- Governor Wolf Gets Sued for Shutting Down Businesses, The Rich Zeoli Show (Talk Radio 1210 WPHT)
Jonathan S. Goldstein is a founding partner of Goldstein Law Partners. He concentrates his practice in the areas of Appellate Practice, Employment Law, Complex Dispute Resolution & Litigation, Constitutional Law & Civil Rights, Municipal Law and Land Use, Election Law, and Business Law.
Mr. Rodgers is an associate at Goldstein Law Partners. He concentrates his practice in the areas of constitutional law and civil rights, complex litigation and employment law. As an experienced litigator, he appears before federal and state courts at both the trial and appellate levels.