Boutique fitness group sues Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey over closure order

Jul 13, 2020, 2:56 PM | Updated: 10:06 pm
(Facebook Photo/Club Pilates North Gilbert)...
(Facebook Photo/Club Pilates North Gilbert)
(Facebook Photo/Club Pilates North Gilbert)

PHOENIX – A group of boutique fitness businesses has sued Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey over his executive order to close all indoor gyms last month as the number of coronavirus cases in the state soared.

It’s at least the third lawsuit that’s been filed in response to Ducey’s June 29 executive order that shut down bars, nightclubs, gyms, movie theaters and water parks until at least July 27.

The plaintiffs in the lawsuit filed July 1 in U.S. District Court, District of Arizona, are Xponential Fitness and seven related brands: AKT Franchise, Club Pilates Franchise, CycleBar Franchising, PB Franchising, Row House Franchise and Stretch Lab Franchise and Yoga Six Franchise.

Alex Weingarten, an attorney representing the businesses, told KTAR News 92.3 FM the plaintiffs made their argument during a telephonic hearing Monday, and the judge said to expect a decision soon.

“We argued that the executive order entered by Gov. Ducey shutting down all of the gyms and fitness centers in the state of Arizona temporarily was an unconstitutional exercise of authority in that it, among other things, violates due process rights,” he said.

Weingarten said that while the governor has broad authority to take action the protect the health of Arizonans, he can’t ignore the rights of the those impacted by his order.

“It’s one thing for the governor to act, regardless of how well-intentioned that action is,” he said. “But now that he has acted, but has not given us any opportunity to address the concerns raised by the executive order, that is a deprivation of our due process rights.”

A spokesman for the governor’s office said the executive order followed “the law and the constitution.”

“We’re making reasonable and responsible decisions in the best interest of public health,” Patrick Ptak told KTAR News.

The Xponential Fitness group hopes to fare better than Mountainside Fitness, a Valley-based chain of large gyms that lost its bid for a temporary restraining order against the closure last week.

“The Governor does not have to prove that his decision was correct,” the judge I the Mountainside case wrote. “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.”

A group of Arizona bar owners has also filed a lawsuit contending that Ducey didn’t have the authority to shut them down.

Ducey’s order came as the state was becoming a global hot spot for COVID-19 cases and the state’s hospitals were looking at potential capacity issues.

The Arizona health department reported 1,357 new coronavirus cases on Monday morning and eight additional deaths. That brought the state’s totals to 123,824 COVID-19 cases and 2,245 fatalities.

KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Peter Samore contributed to this report.

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Boutique fitness group sues Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey over closure order