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Palm Beach County commissioners 'overstepped their constitutional boundaries' with mask mandate, attorney says

Cory Strolla represents 4 county residents in lawsuit challenging law
Palm Beach County Mayor Dave Kerner wears mask
Posted at 5:25 PM, Jul 01, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-01 17:36:59-04

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Demonstrators marched in West Palm Beach last week, demanding Palm Beach County commissioners reject a plan to force people to wear protective masks in public when social distancing is not possible to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

But commissioners unanimously passed the measure.

Now, four residents of the county are taking their opposition to court.

"The Palm Beach County Board of County Commissioners clearly overstepped their constitutional boundaries," Cory Strolla, one of the attorneys representing the plaintiffs in a 37-page lawsuit, told WPTV NewsChannel 5.

The suit lists seven reasons why the new law should be tossed, from alleging a violation of free speech to the right to refuse medical treatment.

"Face masks are medical devices," Strolla said Wednesday. "The case law is on point as well in our complaint, that the Board of County Commissioners said, 'If you don't wear this medical device for this medical treatment, we're going to civilly fine you.'"

Palm Beach County Mayor Dave Kerner said he "wasn't surprised" by the lawsuit.

Palm Beach County Mayor Dave Kerner wears mask
Palm Beach County Mayor Dave Kerner says he "wasn't surprised" by a lawsuit challenging the mask mandate.

"Obviously, there were a lot of passions on the side of the anti-maskers, so to speak," he said.

Kerner is confident the law to mandate masks will sustain any legal challenge.

"It distracts from the pandemic response," Kerner said. "These county attorneys work day in and day out on other issues at the Emergency Operations Center, but we will have to defend this, and public safety is No. 1."

County attorneys have 10 days to provide a formal answer to the lawsuit. One possible option is to file a motion to get the case thrown out.