Lawsuit Is First to Enforce Governor’s Executive Order
Contact: Rob McDougall, Chief of Environmental Division, Co-chair of Rapid Response Team, 802-828-3171
UPDATE: Rutland Superior Court’s presiding judge has granted the State’s motion for a temporary restraining order. Club Fitness of Vermont and Mr. Manovill are now enjoined from conducting any in-person, indoor operations at any fitness center so long as the Governor’s Executive Order prohibits them from doing so.
Attorney General T.J. Donovan today filed a civil lawsuit and motion for preliminary injunction to stop a Rutland-area fitness center from operating in violation of Governor Scott’s Executive Order and Addendums. The State of Vermont alleges that Club Fitness of Vermont and its owner, Sean Manovill, are operating a fitness center in violation of Executive Order 01-20, Addendum 4. In seeking the preliminary injunction, the State is asking the Court to shut down the facility, as required under the Governor’s executive orders. The lawsuit was filed in the Civil Division of the Rutland Superior Court.
“I’m disappointed we have to go to court to seek compliance with the Governor’s lawful executive order,” said Attorney General T.J. Donovan. “The vast majority of Vermonters have done the right thing. It’s not fair to them or other businesses to let Mr. Manovill openly violate the order.”
Executive Order 01-20, Addendum 4 required gymnasiums, fitness centers, and similar exercise facilities to cease all in-person operations on Monday, March 23, 2020. Addendum 4 is still in effect. Governor Scott’s recently announced Phased Restart Work Safe Guidance does not allow these businesses to resume operations.
On May 5, 2020, following reports of Club Fitness being open for business, and after an attempt to convince Mr. Manovill to comply with the Governor’s executive orders was unsuccessful, the Attorney General’s Office sent Mr. Manovill a cease and desist letter requesting compliance. Mr. Manovill temporarily closed the gym following receipt of the letter. Despite warnings from the Attorney General’s Office, Mr. Manovill re-opened Club Fitness of Vermont on May 15, 2020. An officer observed patrons exercising without masks and not staying six feet from each other. The officer saw no hand sanitizing stations or signage advising customers to wear masks, keep a safe distance, or clean equipment.
The Attorney General thanks the Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development, the Vermont Agency of Digital Services, the Vermont Department of Health, and the Rutland and Castleton Police Departments for their assistance with this matter.