Kings Island sues Ohio Department of Health director over coronavirus shutdown

Kings Island Amusement Park has filed a lawsuit against Amy Acton, director of the Ohio Department of Health over state orders restricting the opening of water and amusement parks.

The lawsuit, filed Thursday in Warren County Common Pleas Court, also names the Warren County Health District.

The litigation is the latest local move in a growing struggle with the state over the orders made in efforts to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus.

The lawsuit claims Acton lacks authority to order the restrictions preventing water parks and amusement parks like Kings Island from opening.

RELATED: Warren County officials discuss litigation over state restrictions affecting Kings Island opening

The lawsuit also claims a lack of due process allowing for appeal of the state orders.

In addition, the lawsuit claims the rules do not provide for equal protection under the law, by permitting some businesses but not others to operate.

The orders also violate the Doctrine of Separation of Powers and “delegated unfettered and unbridled vague power to unelected officials,” such as state and county health officials.

RELATED: Kings Island postpones opening for more than a month

Christopher Finney, a Cincinnati lawyer, and Maurice Thompson of the 1851 Center for Constitutional Law in Columbus filed the lawsuit.

The two have filed lawsuits elsewhere in Ohio over the state’s coronavirus orders led by Acton and Gov. Mike DeWine.

In Lake County, a judge granted a preliminary injunction against the state and local health officials stopping enforcement of state orders for gyms and fitness centers.

Earlier this week, Warren County officials said they had been urged by local officials to bring a lawsuit against the state over state restrictions on amusement parks to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Chad Showalter, spokesman for Kings Island, referred questions to a statement today about reopening the park and a proposed state law that would result in immediate reopening.

"As professional amusement park operators with an exemplary safety record, we are experts at managing risks and following protocols. The protocols we have developed to reopen our parks are in accordance with governmental and CDC directives, Erie County and Warren County Health Departments, medical professionals, Ohio's Development Services Agency (DSA) and industry best practices. They are specifically responsive to the COVID-19 crisis," Richard Zimmerman, CEO, Cedar Fair Entertainment Company, said in the statement.

Dan Tierney, a spokesman for DeWine, said the state declined to comment on the pending litigation.

Finney, who won a $200,000 settlement in a public-meetings lawsuit against Clearcreek Twp., declined to comment on the Kings Island lawsuit.

MORE: Clearcreek Twp. to pay $200k in open-meetings case

Judge Donald Oda II has been assigned to the case.

The lawsuit follows criticism by local officials and a call for a lawsuit by Warren County against the state to enable Kings Island and the Warren County Sports Park at Union Village to welcome large crowds.

Deerfield Township trustees urged the county to bring the lawsuit. Instead the county commissioners are preparing a letter urging the state to rethink the order.

On Tuesday, Warren County Commissioner Tom Grossmann said he and wife Kathy Grossmann, mayor of Mason, were among those upset at the state’s unwillingness to consider options to the existing orders unacceptable to Kings Island and its owners.

“I’m afraid they are not going to open this summer,” Grossmann said.

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