Federal lawsuit filed by non-resident property owners
Published 5:11 pm Monday, April 13, 2020
Six non-resident property owners have filed a civil lawsuit in federal district court against Dare County for prohibiting the owners’ entry into the county.
The legal action, filed April 7, 2020, asks the court to declare the prohibition unconstitutional and that the action was taken without legal power or authority. Further, the plaintiffs ask for both preliminary and permanent injunction to stop enforcement of the prohibition.
In response to the public health threat from COVID-19, Dare County enacted a State of Emergency on March 16, 2020.
A day later, the county prohibited the entry of non-resident visitors.
On Friday, March 20, effective at 10 p.m., the county prohibited the entry of non-resident property owners.
The plaintiffs allege that denying them entry to Dare County violates the first clause of Article IV, Section 2 of the United States Constitution, which reads “The citizens of each state shall be entitled to all privileges and immunities of citizens in the several states.”
Additionally, the plaintiffs allege a procedural issue.
The complaint states that the March 16 State of Emergency was not “lawfully enacted in accordance with a valid Emergency Management Ordinance.” The lawsuit states that the Emergency Management Ordinance was enacted by resolution amending the Dare County Code of Ordinances.
The complaint alleges that Dare County failed to properly adopt its Emergency Management Ordinance, and therefore the ensuing State of Emergency Declaration on March 16 and prohibitions of entry subsequently issued are invalid.
“Dare County is unable to comment on a possible or potential lawsuit,” says Dare County Public Information Officer Dorothy Hester. As of Wednesday, April 8, at 5 p.m., the complaint had not been served on the county.
The legal action was filed by S.C. Kitchen with Kitchen & Turrentine, PLLC, of Raleigh.
Plaintiffs are John P. Bailey from South Carolina, E. Thompson Bailey from Virginia, Paul W. Michael Jr. and Sheryl S. Michael from Virginia, Todd A. Edgar and Babette S. Edgar from Maryland.
As of press time, Kitchen had not returned messages left to request comment.