MENTOR, Ohio (WJW)– While many businesses are starting to reopen, the fitness industry in Ohio remains closed indefinitely during the coronavirus pandemic.
Local gym owners have filed a class-action lawsuit against the health department in response.
“Just to keep waiting and watching Governor DeWine every single day. I felt like I exhausted every single thing I could do,” said Alex Dudas, who owns AIM Performance Training in Mentor.
Dudas is one of the 35 gyms owners across the state suing the Ohio Department of Health.
“We haven’t received a grant, a loan, stimulus, nothing. So, what we are really trying to do is raise funds for our trainers,” Dudas said.
The class action lawsuit filed May 11 by the 1851 Center for Constitutional Law in Columbus, includes the owners of 17 local gyms in Northeast Ohio.
“We have hundreds of members that view this as a home. I have hundreds of text messages from people saying, ‘When is our home opening? When can I come home?'” said Frank Desico, owner of Ohio Sport and Fitness in Willoughby, who is also suing.
Desico is frustrated that gyms remain closed while most retail businesses, along with restaurants, bars and salons are reopening this week.
“I think if you are being responsible while you are in a place. You got 250 to 300 people who are walking into a Giant Eagle, touching produce and putting it back. I think people within a gym, especially a family-oriented gym, at a 50 percent less capacity in a 12,000 square-foot facility can manage just fine,” Desico said.
The lawsuit names Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton and the Lake County General Health District as defendants.
It alleges that gym owners face an, “Imminent risk of criminal prosecution and/or the decimation of their businesses.” The suit goes on to say Acton, “Selectively singles out and disfavors seven industries on the basis of their identity, rather than their safety.”
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine addressed gym owners involved in the lawsuit during his news conference Tuesday.
“We have gym owners who are working to come up a recommendation very, very shortly. So what we want to do is do this right,” DeWine said.
The case is pending before Judge Eugene Lucci in Lake County Common Pleas Court.