Live & Touring

Two Big Music Festivals Sue Over ‘Unconstitutional’ Coronavirus Restrictions

Organizers for two large Ohio music festivals have filed a lawsuit against state and local health officials over restrictions on large gatherings, claiming that they violate the organizers’ liberty and constitutional rights.

The two festivals – The Bellwether Music Festival, organized by ESK Presents, and The Country Fest, produced by Project Live – were affected by public health orders related to COVID-19. The Bellwether festival has been fully canceled for 2020 while The Country Fest has been rescheduled, at least for now, for early August 2020.

In their suit, organizers allege that Ohio government officials, including Ohio Governor Mark DeWine and the state’s former director of the Ohio Department of Health, Dr. Amy Acton issued prohibitions on mass gatherings that were unconstitutional and based on faulty science.

The suit also takes exception to statements made by former Director Acton, who claimed March 12, 2020, that over 100,000 people in Ohio were already infected with the COVID-19 virus.

The plaintiffs allege that the decisions by public health officials violated both companies’ first amendment rights and inflicted substantial monetary losses.

As well, they allege the rules have been applied unevenly and the suit noted that large protests of thousands of people in the wake of killing of George Floyd, have been allowed to proceed, despite the prohibition on large public gatherings.

Through their legal action, ESK Presents and Project Live are seeking declaratory judgment declaring that the orders and decrees prohibiting public gatherings are invalid, as well as the award of ‘at least nominal damages’ and attorney fees.

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