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Restaurant owners drop legal action against state, county


Three owners of dine-in restaurants in Los Angeles County who filed a legal action demanding compensation for revenue losses when indoor dining was prohibited under coronavirus restrictions have dropped their case.

In their petition filed last April 12, petitioners James P. Trani, Steve Patrick and John Marvoich named as respondents the state of California and Los Angeles County. The three businessmen alleged the forced closures amounted to a government taking and violating their rights of free speech and assembly. Their court papers did not name the restaurants they own.

In October, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Jon R. Takasugi granted a motion by the Attorney General’s Office to dismiss the state as a party, saying the restaurant owners had “not submitted any facts which could show that state defendants commandeered or utilized any personal property. In fact, plaintiffs allege that they continued to operate their restaurants as take-out restaurants, albeit with less business.”

Two months later, the judge found the county was not properly served with the petition and quashed service. Then, on Thursday, Jan. 27, the restaurant owners’ lawyer, James Otto, filed court papers with the judge asking that the remainder of the case be dismissed. No reason was given for the businessmen’s decision.

According to the petition, the ban on indoor dining was “an irrational and unnecessary order to stop the spread of the COVID-19 virus by punishing the irrelevant plaintiffs who are virus-free and pose absolutely no risk of spreading the virus.” The restaurant owners maintained the shutdown was “not rationally related to a or any governmental interest as it was unsupported by any evidence and defined logic, nature, and/or common sense.”

Before the closures, Trani operated his restaurant at a profit for 30 years, while Marvoich’s eatery was in the black for 20 years and Patrick’s for 11 years, the petition stated. Their businesses have never been the source of the COVID-19 or any other virus, the petition stated.