UPDATE Aug. 19, 2021: The civil lawsuit was dismissed in Virginia Beach Circuit Court on Aug. 13, 2021.
VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — For 38 years, Bill Dillon has brought Beatles’ memories to the same site on 22nd Street: Abbey Road Pub and Restaurant.
But all that has recently changed.
“The governor has overstepped his authority with all these executive orders. He is taking away our rights to due process,” Dillon told WAVY News from the porch in front of the restaurant, which he owns and operates.
He is so upset with how Gov. Ralph Northam has handled the management of COVID-19 with executive orders, he has filed a lawsuit against the governor in Virginia Beach Circuit Court. Dillon, through his attorney, argues Northam’s orders violate the state constitution.
“Executive orders are an impermissible restriction on the constitutional right of assembly. They deprive the plaintiffs of their liberty and property, their business operations and proceeds, without anything resembling due process.”
Dillon feels his rights have been taken away.
“He has taken away our rights to our property without due process, and our right to contract, to trade, to have customers in our businesses,” he said.
The suit, filed by Dillon’s attorney Paul Duggan from Harrisonburg, argues Northam has provided no impact analysis for each executive order, which Dillon argues he is entitled to do.
“He is releasing these orders without any data, or anything connected to them. He gives no scientific data. In one of them he says it seems to have slowed the spread of the virus through these procedures without citing any data to back that up,” Dillon added.
Dillon also charges Northam excluded the General Assembly from any input in moving forward reacting to COVID-19 laws and policies,
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“Since March 12 when he declared a State of Emergency the General Assembly was still in session. They were still in Richmond. He did not call a special session. He didn’t ask the legislators to stay on.”
We called Northam’s office for comment. Spokesperson Alena Yarmosky, emailed us back a statement.
“All of the Governor’s executive actions are lawful. We do not, however, comment on pending litigation. The Governor will continue to make decisions based in science, data, and public health,” Yarmosky wrote.
One of the reasons Dillon brought the lawsuit are these numbers: Due to COVID-19, his revenues for April are off 93 percent from a year ago in April, May is down 56 percent.
He blames Northam’s response COVID-19 response for that.
Dillon wants his restaurant to open 100 percent with no restrictions.
Northam supporters say he knows what he’s doing. He’s a doctor. Other states are getting COVID-19 spikes and Virginia, so far, is not. What about that?
“I would say he doesn’t appear to be following the numbers that are out there. Did we have any more spikes back in March when the beach was littered with thousands of people? Did we get a spike after that beach weekend? No,” Dillon said.
In phase 3, Dillon’s restaurant will likely reopen 100 percent. We asked him if court action is still necessary. Dillon says absolutely.
“If we don’t challenge the governor to allow us to open 100 percent, then what’s going to happen in September or October when he declares there’s another emergency? We all have to shut down again?” he said.
Dillon is also disappointed in his fellow restaurant owners — who he thinks are with him secretly but are afraid to challenge the governor — refused to file any legal actions or join his.
“I wanted people to join, and I’m surprised they didn’t. I am disappointed,” he said.