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Owners react after Ventura County drops lawsuits against 5 businesses for staying open during pandemic

VENTURA COUNTY, Calif. - Earlier this month, the Ventura County Board of Supervisors dropped several lawsuits against businesses that did not comply with public health orders during the pandemic.

Now, those business owners are trying to pick up where they left off.

“It’s an emotional roller coaster. That is the best way I can put it,” said Lindsey Cohn, owner of BSF Fitness.

Many gyms and restaurants were hit hard after going through multiple shutdowns.

Barbara Klempner and her husband own Original Pizza Cookery in Thousand Oaks--one of many restaurants that remained open during the closures.

“We were the first ones that opened after four times and nine months of opening and closing. We decided that we were going to stay open after the last indoor closure,” said Klempner.

The county sued Kempner and several other businesses for refusing to comply with health orders.

But last week, the Board of Supervisors voted to drop lawsuits against five businesses including Pizza Cookery, Mrs. Olson's Coffee Hut in Oxnard, House of Gains in Port Hueneme and Colosseum Bootcamp in Oxnard.

“I don’t think they want Dr. Levin to pose, and I am going to figure out how I can get Dr. Levin to pose, because I think he owes an explanation to the County of Ventura, not to just hide behind county counsel and say I am too busy,” said attorney Ronda Kennedy.

The Board of Supervisors released a statement saying the lawsuits were never meant to punish businesses, but instead to get them to comply with health orders.

Back in January, Mrs. Olson's owner, Matt Brimigion, started a coalition known as Brave.

Business owners and community members worked together to push for reopening, and Brimigion thinks it helped.

“The fight is definitely not over. We intend to sue the county now,” said Klempner.

In the meantime, BSF Fitness is still waiting for its case to be dropped.

"That is with the DA’s Office now, because they filed for contempt," said Kennedy

"We are at least into $100,000 in fines and fees that we are fighting," said Cohn. "I am hoping the DA has conviction and they follow suit with the county and drop everything.”

Some local restaurants and gyms said they will continue to stay open regardless of restrictions, though Ventura County does not yet allow many businesses to operate indoors.

Article Topic Follows: Money and Business

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Jessica Brest

Jessica Brest is a digital journalist and assignment editor for NewsChannel 3-12. To learn more about Jessica, click here.


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