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Johnson County mask lawsuit by Blue Valley student dismissed

Johnson County Board of Commissioners
Posted at 10:00 AM, Sep 21, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-21 17:04:53-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A lawsuit against a Johnson County Board of County Commissioners' mandate requiring masks for kindergarten through sixth grade students has been dismissed.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of a Blue Valley School District middle school student, M.M.C.

The attorney for the student, Ryan Kriegshauser, told KSHB 41 News that both parties agreed for the lawsuit to be dismissed last Thursday.

"In coordination with the plaintiff's parents, we have decided that dismissal of this case is ultimately in the best interest of their minor child given the risk of being subjected to vitriol, rumors and innuendo from bad actors for simply standing up to challenge a nearly yearlong order," Kriegshauser said in a statement.

The mandate was approved by the Johnson County Board of County Commissioners on Aug. 5 and is set to last until May 31, 2022. It requires all K-6 grade students wear masks as well as anyone who cannot be physically separated from the students.

Kriegshauser argued that the county's mandate isn't limited enough to comply with the law. The lawsuit said that the middle school student "requests the Court narrow the effective date of the Order such that it must be reviewed by the Board of Johnson County Commissioners every 30 days."

The suit cites Senate Bill 40, which requires a speedy legal hearing for Kansans challenging COVID-19 related restrictions. The law is currently being appealed by Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt after a Johnson County judge found the bill unconstitutional, but a stay of that ruling was granted by the Kansas Supreme Court.

Kriegshauser said that he and his clients are still asking for the board to amend the length of the order. He said that they could not continue the case because of the best interests of the minor and the "dangerous public environment in which we currently find ourselves."

"We brought this lawsuit to engage in a public policy discourse through litigation and were eager to have these issues heard by the Court," Kriegshauser said in the statement. "It is unfortunate that our society is quickly losing the ability to have civil conversations between groups with opposing viewpoints, even as we all try to strike an appropriate balance between protecting the public during a pandemic and maintaining our civil liberties."