Missouri Attorney General files motion to halt St. Louis County attempt to impose a second mask mandate

Mask Mandate News Graphic

Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt filed a motion to renew and enforce the preliminary injunction in his lawsuit against St. Louis County following County Executive Page’s attempt to illegally impose a second mask mandate. The motion was filed in the existing case against St. Louis County and asks the court to apply the existing preliminary injunction to the County’s new health order. The Attorney General’s Office also filed a motion to compel discovery, as St. Louis County has produced scant discovery in this case to this point.

“The County Executive’s latest attempt to impose his will on the people of St. Louis County is ridiculous and illegal. After repeated court losses, County Executive Page seems to need another reminder that his attempts to foist a mask mandate on the people of St. Louis County are unlawful, which we will happily provide,” said Attorney General Eric Schmitt. “Moreover, St. Louis County is refusing to produce the discovery that we requested. We filed a motion to compel to find out exactly what St. Louis County is hiding. I will continue to lead the fight against local bureaucrats who are solely focused on aggregating, maintaining, and exerting their power. The people of St. Louis are citizens, not subjects.”

The motion to enforce begins with, “The County Defendants, acting through Defendant Khan, have tried to impose exactly the same Mask Mandate that this Court has already ordered them three times not to enforce. Their fourth attempt is just as illegal as the first three, and their latest gambit appears designed to sow even greater public confusion about the legal status of their Mask Mandate.”

The motion to enforce argues that, under the new state law that reins in the power of health authorities to issue orders, the second mask mandate is illegal as the new law does not allow health authorities to issue two similar consecutive health orders within the same 180-day period.

Additionally, the motion to enforce notes that the first mask mandate was lawfully terminated by a 5-2 vote of the County Council in July and is, therefore, a prohibited order under that new law. Further, the motion states that, even if the first mask mandate had not been lawfully terminated, the second mask mandate would still be illegal: “Because the first Mask Mandate ‘expired’ after thirty days without extension, even if it had not been lawfully terminated, the County Defendants cannot lawfully re-impose the same order for the next 180 days.”

The motion to compel begins with, “The Court should compel Defendants to comply with their discovery obligations. In response to the State’s interrogatories, Defendants Page has provided no responses that are signed and under oath. Defendant Khan and DPH have failed to respond individually, and their answers show they have not fully answered. They make meritless claims of attorney-client privilege over communications with non-lawyers, refuse to answer Interrogatories completely if at all, and their one production of publicly available documents show that they are improperly withholding documents.”

The motion to compel continues, “Defendants have produced a total of 108 files, all of which are publicly available, in response to the State’s Requests for Production. These files contain no emails, policy statements, meeting agendas, drafts of any DPH document, communications between DPH and the St. Louis Pandemic Task Force, DPH reports on the pandemic, communications from the St. Louis County Council or their members, communications from business or healthcare leaders on COVID-19 issues, documents from DHSS, communications from the CDC, or any number of obvious categories of documents that one would reasonably expect the individual defendants or DPH to have within their possession or control.”

Attorney General Schmitt previously sued St. Louis County over their mask mandate in July. Since then, the Attorney General’s Office has obtained a temporary restraining order, preliminary injunction, and has defeated the defendants’ attempts to dismiss the case.

The full motion to enforce can be found at this link.

The full motion to compel can be found at this link