KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Blue Line claims it will be forced to lay off staff or close its doors for good because of “arbitrary and unlawful” emergency health orders put in place because of the COVID-19 pandemic in Kansas City, Missouri, and Jackson County, according to a lawsuit filed Monday.
The lawsuit, which was filed by Michael Gunter in Jackson County Circuit Court on behalf of Blue Line Productions LLC, names Kansas City, Missouri, along with Mayor Quinton Lucas as well as Jackson County along with County Executive Frank White Jr. as defendants.
The Blue Line, which threatened legal action as soon as the restrictions were announced last month, is asking for a temporary restraining order, which would allow bars and restaurants in KCMO and Jackson County to remain open normal hours through the “typically lucrative holiday season.”
According to The Blue Line’s petition, the emergency orders, which KCMO announced Nov. 16 and that went into effect throughout the city and county on Nov. 20, are illegal without approval by the KCMO City Council or Jackson County Legislature and unconstitutional.
According to the lawsuit, The Blue Line said it pays “a premium to Kansas City and the State of Missouri” for a 3 a.m. liquor license and that 40% of its revenue comes after 10 p.m.
That makes the closure of bars and restaurants — while casinos are allowed to continue round-the-clock operations, movie theaters can stay open past 10 p.m., and alcohol sales are permitted to continue at liquor and grocery stores — “arbitrary and capricious,” according to the lawsuit.
The Blue Line, a popular hockey-themed sports bar in the River Market, further argues that the forced early closing time constitutes a deprivation of private property without just compensation in violation of the Missouri Constitution.
Among the Blue Line’s other complaints is that the latest orders from KCMO and Jackson County come “at a time when it will be almost impossible” to continue outdoor dining and at the start of the holiday season.
According to the Blue Line’s lawsuit, holiday revenue for bars and restaurants represents “a significant contribution to their annual income.”
The Blue Line’s owners believe the 50% capacity restriction, prevalence of hand sanitizer and enhanced cleaning, and mandatory mask requirement for all staff and patrons when not seated at a table is sufficient.
The lawsuit notes that door staff has been hired to conduct temperature checks on “everyone who enters its restaurant” from 6 p.m. to 3 a.m., refusing admittance to anyone with an elevated temperature.