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As Florida reopens, lawsuit filed over required use of face masks by business owners

This week a lawsuit was filed on behalf of a Central Florida businessman over one county's face masks requirement.

SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. — As Florida reopens for business, not everyone is pleased with the conditions or requirements in place to stop the spread of COVID-19.

This week a lawsuit was filed on behalf of David Leavitt, a Central Florida businessman over one county's face masks requirement.

"This is not a political ploy said," Anthony Sabatini.

The Florida lawmaker is also an attorney and filed suit to strike down Seminole County's executive order 20-017.

His client runs a computer recycling business, but he is also the former Seminole County Libertarian Party chairman and is very much about protecting civil liberties.

"What they've done is feel-good nonsense, bad policy and illegal," said Sabatini.

For weeks, Leavitt has used his social media to fight to reopen, and this weekend he went a step further, suing Seminole County over its face mask policy.

"No, my client does not plan to wear a face mask," said Sabatini.

Executive order 20-017 requires business owners and their employees who are in contact with the public to wear masks.

"Their executive order says that if you're within six feet of a customer or the person you are working with you have to wear a mask," he said.

The Florida lawmaker said the order is illegal.

Jay Zembower chairs the Seminole County Commission.  

"We've never required all of our citizens to wear masks," he said.

He said the guidelines were written following federal and state guidelines and recommendations.

"We try to follow the CDC and state guidelines to address businesses that have employees coming in contact with the public," said Zembower.

The order calls for penalties as much as $500 per violation, and mandatory closure of the business if there are repeated violations.

Zembower said the commission is motivated to make the community safe for everyone in this pandemic environment. 

He pointed to the governor's executive order requiring salon operators and barbershops to wear face mask.

"We are prepared to fight this lawsuit 100%,"  he said.

Sabatini wants the court to issue an emergency injunction to stop enforcement of the executive order.

"No local government has ever come up with a law this silly," he said.

No date has been set for a hearing, but if the ruling is not in his favor he said they will appeal.

"No government has ever made people wear mask to open their businesses. It is stupid but because of what's going on people are not paying attention. It is unconstitutional," said Sabatini.

DAVID J. LEAVITT SEMINOLE COUNTY, apolitical subdivision of theState of Florida, AND DECLARATORY JUDGMENT 1. This is a lawsuit for injunctive relief over which this Court has jurisdiction. 2. This is a lawsuit for declaratory judgment over which this Court has jurisdiction 3. Venue is proper in Seminole County, Florida under Fla.

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