Lawsuit Is Second Enforcement Action Brought By The AG Since Start of Pandemic
MONTPELIER – Attorney General T.J. Donovan today filed a civil lawsuit and motion for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction to stop a Newport business from operating in violation of Governor Scott’s Executive Order and Addenda. The State of Vermont alleges that HNR Desautels LLC, doing business as the UPS Store, and its owner, Andre "Mike" Desautels are in violation of Governor Scott’s orders by working in the presence of others without wearing required cloth face coverings. The State alleges that by refusing to follow the mandatory health and safety requirements around employee mask use, the Defendants placed both employees and members of the public at risk due to the spread of COVID-19. In seeking the preliminary injunction, the State is asking the Court to require the Defendants to cease violating the Governor’s COVID-19-related orders. The lawsuit was filed in the Civil Division of the Washington Superior Court.
“I am disappointed that we have been left with no choice but to seek an order from the court to bring this business and its owner into compliance,” said Attorney General Donovan. “As Vermonters, we all share a duty to help keep our friends, neighbors, employees, and customers safe. The majority of Vermonters have taken this duty to heart and have complied with the Governor’s orders. If we continue work together, we can get through this pandemic and avoid health and safety problems and further disruption to the business community.”
On June 15, 2020, Governor Scott issued Amended and Restated Executive Order No. 01-20 (Restated EO 01-20). Restated EO 01-20 allowed for the resumption of nearly all business, non-profit, and government entity operations subject to “occupancy limits and physical distancing, health and sanitation and training requirements set forth in ACCD Work Safe Guidance.” The guidance from ACCD requires that “Employees must wear face coverings over their nose and mouth when in the presence of others.”
After it was reported that the Defendants were not in compliance with the Governor’s orders, the Attorney General’s Office sent a cease and desist letter on November 10, 2020, informing the Defendants of the mask requirement for employees and advising them to comply. On February 17, 2021, in response to additional reports of noncompliance, the Attorney General’s Office sent a second warning to the Defendants and again requested immediate compliance with the mask mandate. Despite repeated warnings from the Attorney General’s Office, and multiple outreach and education efforts made by the Newport Police Department, the Defendants have refused to comply with the Governor’s orders.
The Attorney General thanks the Newport Police Department and the Vermont State Police for their assistance with this matter.