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State Prevails in Mask Requirement Enforcement Action Against Newport Store

March 12, 2021

Ruling Requires Store Owner and Employees to Comply with Governor’s Orders

Contact: Charity R. Clark, Chief of Staff, 802-828-3171

Orleans Superior Court, Judge Mary Miles Teachout presiding, today ruled for the State on the final merits of its enforcement action against HNR Desautels LLC, currently doing business as Derby Port Press, and its owner, Andre “Michael” Desautels. Judge Teachout accordingly ordered the defendants to stop violating Governor Scott’s Executive Order and Addenda. “Specifically, Defendants shall not employ any persons or open any premises for business without compliance with EO 01-20 and its addenda and ACCD’s Phased Restart Work Safe Guidance,” ordered Judge Teachout in today’s decision.

“While I am pleased with the Court’s decision, I remain troubled by the fact that this entire situation was completely avoidable,” said Attorney General Donovan. “To the Vermonters and Vermont business owners who have done the right thing throughout this pandemic and followed the Governor’s orders, I thank you.”

In February, Attorney General T.J. Donovan filed a civil lawsuit and motion for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction to stop the Newport business from violating Governor Scott’s Executive Order and Addenda. In its complaint, the State alleged that the Defendants were in violation of Governor Scott’s orders by working in the presence of others without wearing required cloth face coverings. Compliance checks conducted by the Newport Police Department showed the Defendants, who formerly did business as the UPS Store, continued to violate the Governor’s orders even after the complaint was filed. On February 23, 2021, Orleans Superior Court granted the State’s motion for a temporary restraining order, requiring HNR Desautels LLC and Mr. Desautels to comply with the Governor’s mask mandate to operate the business.

In today’s ruling, Judge Teachout wrote, “The facts are clear that both the business entity, HNR Desautels LLC, and Mr. Desautels personally were in violation of the ACCD rules on February 18 and 22, 2021, and on other days in which the store was open for business and he was not wearing a face covering over his nose and mouth when in the presence of others.” Today’s decision compels the business and its owner to comply with the Governor’s orders.

The Court rejected the legal arguments presented by Desautels and his attorney and found that the Emergency Management statute is constitutional. In addition, the Court found that rules created by the Agency of Commerce and Community Development (ACCD) by way of that statute need not adhere to the rulemaking requirements of the Administrative Procedures Act.

Here are links to today’s decision and injunction. A remote status conference has been scheduled by Orleans Superior Court, Civil Division, for April 22, 2021 to address the State’s request for civil penalties.