KALISPELL — Governor Greg Gianforte announced Thursday the state and five businesses in Flathead County agreed to proceed with ending legal action. All parties filed the settlement Thursday morning at Flathead County District Court.
The state asked the court to dismiss cases against five businesses and for the businesses to dismiss counterclaims against the state. The five businesses included Sykes Diner, Your Turn Mercantile and Last Turn Casino, Remington Bar, Ferndale Market and Scotty’s Bar.
“Less than two months ago, I promised the state would work to put an end to outrageous lawsuits the previous administration filed against these five businesses. We already have enough federal overreach that we don’t need the state joining in,” Governor Greg Gianforte said. “These lawsuits have burdened these businesses unnecessarily for months, and that ends today.”
Last fall, the five businesses were sued by the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPPHS) for allegedly failing to follow former Gov. Steve Bullock's state COVID-19 guidelines.
The judge in the case ruled against the state, saying it did not have enough evidence and that the businesses made reasonable efforts.
During his State of the State address on January 28, Gianforte announced the state would seek dismissal of the litigation against these businesses.
“As hard as 2020 was for Montana workers and business owners who were just trying to get by, the last thing we all needed was for the government to get in the way. But that’s exactly what happened in the fall,” Gianforte said. “A pandemic with severe economic fallout is bad enough. We don’t need government piling on. That’s why, tonight, I am announcing I have directed our staff to seek dismissal of the litigation against these businesses. Enough is enough.”