The City of Norman is in the middle of a legal battle. A lawsuit filed by three Norman salons has turned into much more, according to Mayor Breea Clark.
The suit was filed last week.
On Monday, a Cleveland County judge ruled that salons had the right to reopen despite closure orders stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic.
While the city said it will not appeal the temporary injunction, attorneys for the City of Norman filed to have the case moved to federal court.
Clark said that is because it deals with the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution.
The mayor said the court battle has now become a setting precedent.
“This isn't about salon owners, or me, or anything like that. It is about preserving the rights of cities to institute policies that are meant to protect public health safety, and welfare in the event of emergencies,” said Clark.
The salon owners’ attorney, Sam Talley with Turner & Bertman Law Firm. issued a statement Wednesday afternoon:
"My clients are disappointed that they may now incur additional attorney's fees because the City is trying to achieve their stated political goal through their removal to federal court. We are always weighing our response and options and will continue to be able to speak with the City and Mayor Clark about this but to date they will not contact us."
The firm added that their clients thought the matter was somewhat concluded after the Cleveland County ruling. They did not anticipate the move to federal court under these new circumstances.
Clark said she is a proud patron of many personal care businesses in Norman, and that this is not a personal vendetta.
She said because of the nature of the case, the federal court was the best venue for this type of issue.
As of right now, the city plans to use its own attorneys in court.
“We did not file the lawsuit, so we are not wasting tax payer dollars there, and the lawsuit would have had to been litigated either way. There is a cost of $400 to move it to the federal court, but that is the only additional cost incurred by the city at this time,” said Clark.
Clark said cities need to be able to issue stay-at-home orders in case there is another wave of the virus.
No matter what is decided it will impact Oklahomans.
“I was actually on a call with the Mayor's Council of the Oklahoma Municipal League when this issue came up. It's not just about Norman, it's about all Oklahoma cities preserving the right to be able to act in times of emergencies, and protect public health and safety,” said Clark.
A court date has not yet been set.