Rock County Public Health Officer Marie-Noel Sandoval is named in a federal lawsuit claiming she and other health officers across the state infringed on people’s rights by implementing safer-at-home orders.
Plaintiffs claim emergency health orders, such as safer-at-home, are unconstitutional and ask that health officers be prohibited from making them in the future, according to the lawsuit.
Plaintiffs also seek damages for violation of their constitutional rights, according to the lawsuit.
Gov. Tony Evers and Andrea Palm, secretary designee of the state Department of Health Services, on March 24 issued a statewide safer-at-home order closing all businesses deemed “nonessential” and instructing people to stay home except for necessary functions.
Evers and Palm are named in the lawsuit, which was filed May 20.
The state Supreme Court struck down the safer-at-home order May 13.
Later that night, Sandoval issued a countywide safer-at-home order, which lasted until the order was lifted about a week later.
Local leaders have maintained that Sandoval had the authority to instate a countywide safer-at-home order despite the state Supreme Court decision.
Health officials across the nation have maintained that staying home is the best way to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus, which has killed 21 people in Rock County, 646 people across the state and more than 110,000 people across the country.
Businesses in Rock County have been allowed to reopen. The county has issued safety guidelines that are strongly encouraged but not mandatory.
The lawsuit includes three Rock County residents as plaintiffs: Jestin Korleski and Lenae Lenore Gilbertson of Beloit and Jamie Lynn Westcomb of Janesville.
Korleski is a musician. The businesses he performs at were shut down because of the safer-at-home order, which caused him damage, according to the lawsuit.
All three Rock County plaintiffs claim the safer-at-home order has prevented them from freely exercising their religions, according to the lawsuit.
Safer-at-home orders closed or restricted many churches from holding services. Private gatherings were also prohibited.
Gilbertson, among others who filed the lawsuit, claims the safer-at-home order prevented her from circulating recall petitions for state or local office holders.
The lawsuit does not specify which local official she hoped to recall.
Recall petitions signatures must total 25% of the number of voters in the last relevant election. Signatures must be made in person, according to the lawsuit.
The 17 plaintiffs representing communities across the state are represented by attorney Joseph Voiland, who works out of Cedarburg. The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court in Green Bay.
Fourteen public officials and the Wisconsin Elections Commission are named as defendants.