With recent court decisions finding in favor of those held against their will in government-run quarantine facilities, a violation of due process and other rights as afforded by the U.S. Constitution, and a business owner suing for the ability to operate his establishments, courtroom dockets are beginning to reflect the angst of a nation under siege by more than just the coronavirus pandemic
On Tuesday, Thomas Peinhopf, who operates Livehouse Inc. and The Shady Lady bar/tavern, filed a lawsuit in the District Court of Guam through attorneys Thomas Fisher and Rachel Taimanao-Ayuyu, alleging the governor’s executive order violates inalienable rights afforded to him by the U.S. Constitution.
Leon Guerrero and Department of Public Health and Social Services acting Director Arthur San Agustin are among the defendants named in the lawsuit, both in their personal and official capacities.
"There is no reasonable or substantial basis between defendants' orders permitting one business to operate while prohibiting another business from operating when both businesses are capable of implementing the same safety precautions, policies and procedures," the lawsuit states, in part.
The public had not been given prior notice or an opportunity to be heard on the restrictions, the lawsuit states.
Courts and courts
As the pursuit of Guamanians' inalienable rights becomes litigious, the door to additional lawsuits may follow. Apart from a dissatisfied business owner and the quarantined, some in the tennis community want the government to stay out of their personal affairs and hope for relaxed restrictions. Like Peinhopf and those held captive, the tennis community is displeased with the government's sanctions but, unlike the proprietor and the quarantined, have not sought legal remedy.
"We are not trying to take a stand legally or be controversial," said Torgun Smith, president of the Guam National Tennis Federation, who filed a petition Wednesday with the Department of Public Health and Social Services to resume tennis center operations. "We just feel tennis is as safe as running in the park, and there are many studies we have seen showing tennis (as) one of the safest things - sport of otherwise - in the pandemic.
"We want to be able to allow people to play tennis safely at the GNTC, and trying to - respectfully - be proactive to make our case."
Juana "Jane" Aguon, 75, an avid tennis player, feels compassion for the business owner, stating if she owned a business she would give Peinhopf's approach a shot.
"If I were a business, I would file," she said. "But, I am not a business, I'm just an avid tennis player."
Aguon, recognizing the seriousness of COVID-19, wants Guam's virus count to drop before returning to the court, but she wants to be the one who makes the decision, not the government.
"Although tennis is a low-COVID-19-risk sport, I'd wait for our deaths/positive number to decline before venturing to merge with other players," she said.