May 27, 2020

Open for business: Napa retail art galleries claim victory as county backs down in the face of a legal challenge

Quent Cordair, et al. v. Gavin Newsom, et al.

Napa, California; May 27, 2020: Faced with an imminent legal challenge from a local retail art gallery, Napa County officials said late yesterday that retail art galleries may open for business as part of California’s Stage 2 reopening plan.

Quent and Linda Cordair sought to reopen their gallery, Quent Cordair Fine Art, using social distancing, masks, and limiting the number of customers. But Napa County ordered them to remain closed and threatened the Cordairs and their landlord with fines if they reopened ahead of California’s reopening plan. The state’s reopening plan classifies retail businesses Stage 2, while art galleries are Stage 3.

The Cordairs sent a letter to Napa County, urging them to treat the gallery like other retail business and to allow them to reopen with other Stage 2 retail stores, but the county never responded.

After attorneys from Pacific Legal Foundation informed the county of an impending lawsuit from the Cordairs, county officials responded that retail art galleries would be considered Stage 2 retail businesses and that they may resume operations.

“We are delighted that Quent and Linda Cordair may now open their business,” said Anastasia Boden, senior attorney at Pacific Legal Foundation. “It was deeply unfair that the state considered art galleries Stage 3 when the Cordairs’ shop is no different than the dozens of retail stores permitted to open now. While the government can regulate to protect public health, laws cannot be arbitrary.”

As a result of the county’s announcement, the Cordairs are no longer moving forward with their planned lawsuit.

“We are happy that we can sell our art to willing customers, with recommended safety protocols in place,” said Linda Cordair. “But we shouldn’t have to go through all this trouble to get permission. We should be able to pursue our passion, earn a living, and serve our customers without having to threaten legal action.”

Case Documents

Cordairs' letter to Napa County & Gov. Newsom
May 18, 2020 Download

About Pacific Legal Foundation

Pacific Legal Foundation is a national nonprofit legal organization that defends Americans threatened by government overreach and abuse. Since our founding in 1973, we challenge the government when it violates individual liberty and constitutional rights. With active cases in 39 states plus Washington, D.C., PLF represents clients in state and federal courts, with 12 victories out of 14 cases heard by the U.S. Supreme Court.

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