New Jersey

NJ Gym That Sued State Over Reopening Will Stay Closed, Judge Says

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A federal judge has declined to allow a southern New Jersey gym to reopen as it continues a constitutional challenge to the state order that shut down businesses deemed non-essential in order to help stem the spread of the coronavirus.

U.S. District Judge Robert Kugler on Friday denied a temporary restraining order sought by the owners of Atilis Gym of Bellmawr, which filed suit last month accusing Gov. Phil Murphy of having “arbitrarily” deemed some businesses essential while declaring others — such as gyms — non-essential, court documents show.

Attorney Christopher Arzberger, who represents the owners, told Law360 that he was disappointed but vowed an appeal.

The suit argues that Murphy and other state officials violated the constitutional rights of the owners by forcing them out of business indefinitely with no timeline for when they could reopen.

The gym was ordered to close last month after opening in defiance of the state order and continuing daily operations despite receiving summonses each day for violating the order.

Attorneys said the owners "cannot wait any longer."

"The Plaintiff owners can no longer support their families and keep the gym afloat unless the physical gym opens immediately to members. The owners have utilized their entire savings and have maxxed out their credit cards to conform the gym into a safe haven for its members," Arzberger and James Mermigis wrote in a court brief.

The owners cited steps taken to ensure social distancing, including taping off workout stations and operating at 20% of the building’s capacity, meaning about 44 patrons at a time. They also were requiring patrons to wear masks unless they were in the middle of exercising. Gym staff said they were taking patrons’ temperatures at the door and barring anyone at 100.4 or above; in addition, no new members were being allowed to join, officials said.

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