The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday refused to take up arguments by Florida bars that they should receive compensation because of government-ordered shutdowns early in the COVID-19 pandemic.
The court, as is common, did not explain the decision. But justices effectively let stand a ruling by the state’s 5th District Court of Appeal that rejected arguments the shutdowns amounted to what is known as “inverse condemnation.”
The Florida Supreme Court also declined to take up the dispute in October. Orlando Bar Group LLC, which does business as The Basement bar, The Attic bar and The Treehouse bar, and other bar owners filed the lawsuit against the state and Orange County.
The bars argued that the COVID-19 restrictions in 2020 were arbitrary and amounted to an unconstitutional taking of property rights, entitling them to compensation for damages.
But Orange County Circuit Judge John Jordan and the appeals court rejected the arguments. In a petition filed in January at the U.S. Supreme Court, the bars pointed, in part, to the fact that restaurants had been able to continue operating while bars were shut down to try to prevent spread of the virus.
“The temporary shutting down of businesses for more than a few weeks without any due process, for the perceived public good, requires that the public bear the burden of such shutdowns,” the petition said.
“If due process is not given to businesses alleged to be a public nuisance as transmitting COVID-19, while other similar businesses are permitted to operate, there is an arbitrary application of police powers for which the public must bear the burden of shutting them down.”