Lawsuit against Gov. Edwards challenged in federal court, BR bar owner pursues separate lawsuit

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BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) – A lawsuit filed against Governor Edwards over his decision to close bars during phase 2 was discussed in federal court on Friday.

A group of Houma-area bar owners is asking a judge to allow them to reopen, claiming the governor’s order to close bars during phase 2 unlawfully discriminates against their businesses. Currently, bars can operate for curbside or takeout delivery only.

Over in Baton Rouge, Michelle McMichael owns Tiger Sports Bar.

“I have bills that are still having to be paid at the business I own, it’s a very frustrating situation,” McMichael said.

She says the closures are unlawful. She is also pursuing her own lawsuit against the governor and invites other bars in the capital city to join her.

“I want somebody to tell me why my small bar is shut down and other places aren’t,” McMichael said.

During Friday’s zoom hearing, Edwards’ top medical adviser, Dr. Alex Billioux of the Louisiana Department of Health, was questioned by both sides’ attorneys. Billioux saying he believes closing bars was in the best interest of the state.

“The goal was to stop the increasing cases that we were seeing,” Dr. Billioux said. “If you’re drinking a drink or drinks all night it’s very likely that you won’t wear a mask at all.”

McMichael says she isn’t buying it.

“What is the difference, what is the actual difference,” she said.

Judge Martin Feldman adjourned without making an immediate decision. Mcmichael says all she wants is for her bar to reopen soon.

A separate group of Acadiana bar owners will be in federal court in lafayette on Monday in an identical lawsuit against Gov. Edwards.

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