NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – Monday, the New Mexico Supreme Court ruled the state does not have to compensate businesses for money lost from restrictions and closures during the pandemic. The case was heard in January and it’s the third time the New Mexico Supreme Court ruled against lawsuits filed by businesses in relation to the pandemic.
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The ruling was not a surprise, but the businesses involved say they will keep fighting in court. “It would be a big shock actually if they actually ruled in favor of small businesses,” said Blair Dunn, attorney for parties of interest. “It wasn’t what we anticipated but we did anticipate we’d probably have to take this up with the US Supreme Court. So that’s what we’re going to be looking forward to at this point.”
Monday the Justices ruled that there is no constitutional or statutory requirement to compensate businesses that were forced to close during the pandemic. The lawsuit brought together 14 different cases in 8 different districts to avoid thousands of individual lawsuits from businesses.
Attorney Blair Dunn, who represents restaurants, Hinkle Family Fun Center, a floral shop, and Elite Fitness and Tanning argue that these cases should stay in District Court and be addressed individually rather than a broad sweeping decision by the Supreme Court. The Attorney General’s office asked the New Mexico Supreme Court to weigh in to avoid contradictory decisions. While the Justices did take about five months to deliver a ruling, in the January hearing some of them made their feelings known about the necessity of the health orders.
In a statement the governor’s office says they know businesses are hurting but reiterated that their top priority was and is safety. They also pointed out some of the resources available like state and federal grants to help businesses recover from the pandemic.
The Justices said all of these lawsuits pending in District Courts should now be dismissed.