Music festival organizers file suit against Dr. Amy Acton


FILE – In this Feb. 27, 2020 file photo Ohio Department of Health Director Amy Acton speaks during a news conference at the MetroHealth Medical Center in Cleveland. Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, left, watches. Under pressure from law enforcement, Tennessee’s top health officials quietly agreed in April to release the names and addresses of those who had been treated or exposed to COVID-19 to police departments and sheriff’s offices. Acton issued an order April 24 requiring local health departments to provide emergency dispatchers the names and addresses of people within their jurisdictions who tested positive. The order required dispatchers to treat the data as “protected health information” and to remove it from the system once a person has recovered from the illness, although the order is unclear on how dispatching agencies would learn of this follow-up information. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak, file)

CINCINNATI (WDTN) – Organizers of a music festival in Warren County have filed suit against Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton.

Organizers of The Bellwether Music Festival and The Country Fest filed the suit in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio Friday. The suit alleges Dr. Acton’s orders concerning mass-gatherings and the Stay at Home order are unconstitutional and leave the organizers of the festivals no alternative but to cancel the events.

According to court documents, the suit alleges, “While Amy Acton, as the Director of the Ohio Department of Health, may have certain latitude to regulate so as to ameliorate the effects of a pandemic, that latitude remains subject to constitutional limits, including needing to comply with the First Amendment and the Due Process Clause and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.”

The Bellwether Music Festival is a multi-day, multi-stage alternative music festival held each summer at Renaissance Park, just outside Waynesville, Ohio. Organizers say nearly $400,000 has already been spent planning the August event.

The Country Fest is a multi-day country music festival and is held each summer at Clay’s Park Resort, located just outside North Lawrence, Ohio. According to court documents, the festival is scheduled on August 6 – 8, 2020, with a national lineup of musical acts. Organizers said in the lawsuit it takes at least a year lead time to plan, organize and book the musical groups, and other aspects for the event. Already to date, nearly $2 million has been spent on contracts for the scheduled artists for festivals, according to organizers.

The Warren County Health District and Stark County Combined General Health District were also named in the lawsuit.

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