Big Sky Roundup

Mask lawsuits against Flathead County businesses to end; state will pay $100K in lawyer fees

By: - March 18, 2021 3:07 pm

Gov. Greg Gianforte, right is sworn in on Monday, Jan. 4, 2021 in the Governor’s Reception Room of the Montana State Capitol. (Photo by Thom Bridge of the Helena Independent Record)

Following through on a promise made during his State of the State address, Gov. Greg Gianforte announced Thursday the state had reached an agreement with five Flathead County businesses to end lawsuits brought against them by former Gov. Steve Bullock for violating the now expired statewide mask mandate.

The state will pay out nearly $100,000 for attorney fees incurred by those businesses, according to the settlement —$32,645.50 will go to Frampton Purdy Law Firm, $52,220.52 will go to Rocky Mountain Law Firm Partners, and $9,625 will go to Scott and Kienzle P.C.

“Less than two months ago, I promised the state would work to put an end to outrageous lawsuits the previous administration filed against these five businesses. We already have enough federal overreach that we don’t need the state joining in,” Republican Gianforte said in a press release. “These lawsuits have burdened these businesses unnecessarily for months, and that ends today.”

According to the release, the suits were brought by Democrat Bullock against Ferndale Market, Remington Bar, Scotty’s Bar, Sykes Diner, and Your Turn Mercantile, alleging they did not adequately enforce a mask mandate. As part of the agreement, the businesses are also dropping countersuits against the state.

The news release said the state asked the court to dismiss cases against five businesses and for the businesses to dismiss counterclaims against the state.

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Keith Schubert
Keith Schubert

Keith Schubert was born and raised in Wisconsin and graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2019. He has worked at the St.Paul Pioneer Press, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and most recently, the Asbury Park Press, covering everything from local craft fairs to crime and courts to municipal government to the Minnesota state legislature. In his free time, he enjoys cheering on Wisconsin sports teams and exploring small businesses. Keith is no longer a reporter with the Daily Montanan.