Lawyer Who Challenged Health Orders Says He's Ok Playing Role In Acton's Departure

Aug 14, 2020

Former Ohio Department of Health director Dr. Amy Acton is one of dozens of public health officials who’ve been fired or resigned during the pandemic because of stress, pushback and even concerns about their safety. One of the lawyers who’s been leading the charge against some of the orders designed to protect public health in Ohio says he’s fine with knowing he might have been a part of Acton’s decision to leave.

Dr. Amy Acton quit as health director in June, after weeks of criticism, threats and protests at her home. She resigned as Gov. Mike DeWine’s COVID adviser earlier this month.

Maurice Thompson has filed lawsuits over several public health orders. He offers no apologies for what he might have done that led to Acton’s departure.

"I feel pretty good about my role in that," Thompson said. "I think this is somebody who claim that this was an intense crisis and then quit in the middle of it. So that's not somebody that you want in a leadership position, if indeed this is an intense crisis."

Thompson has represented a bridal shop, gyms, amusement parks and child care centers, and often reopening dates and rules have come out before those lawsuits got far.

For instance, the state is now allowing child cares to go back up to their full capacity, after those facilities were held to lower adult-to-child ratios since they were allowed to reopen in May. About 70 percent say they will.  

Thompson represents about 40 child care centers in a lawsuit that he says will continue though the order for daycares to close down or allow fewer kids has been lifted.

“We have seen some attempts to re-implement orders, especially, say, against bars and restaurants now, for example," Thompson said. "So it's very important when we play this cat-and-mouse game with state government that at some points we pin them down.”

Thompson says he’s not suing over pandemic mandates on individuals such as requirements that people wear masks in retail establishments, but says criminal penalties and shutdowns for businesses go too far.

The child care centers had sued along with Cedar Point, Kings Island and Kalahari Resorts. The part of the lawsuit relating to those amusement and water parks was dismissed when they got rules to reopen, but the daycare part continues in Warren County in southwest Ohio.

And even though there’s a statewide mask mandate, masks aren’t required in the Warren County Courthouse unless a judge demands they be worn.