KANKAKEE — Raymond Hansen, of Manteno, has filed a lawsuit against Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker and his actions in shutting down the state since the middle of March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Hansen filed the lawsuit on May 21 on behalf of himself and his family and is representing himself. In the filing, Hansen said that neither he nor his family have been diagnosed with COVID-19 or have been subject to a quarantine investigation by the Kankakee County Health Department.
The governor’s executive order in mid-March put restrictions in place to curb the spread of the coronavirus. As a result, county courthouses have had to reschedule thousands of cases and heard only emergency matters since then. Among the cases affected is Hansen’s custody case. The governor’s orders sidetracked his April 16 trial date in Will County, according to the lawsuit.
The case has been ongoing for two years, Hansen said. His next court date is June 18 for a status hearing.
Phase 3 of the governor’s Restoring Illinois has courts opening again on June 1 with some restrictions still in place.
According to the lawsuit, Hansen, 47, is asking for costs incurred and $5 million in damages for mental, physical damage and time lost with children. He alleges there’s no legal authority under the Illinois Constitution, Illinois Emergency Management Agency Act and/or the Illinois Department of Public Health to enter isolation or quarantine nor limit movement with the state of Hansen, his family and the citizens of Illinois similarly situated.
Hansen is asking for the court to grant an injunction of the governor’s orders.
“I’m not doing this just for me but for all families and others that have been affected,” Hansen said. “I’m a man of action, not a man of words.”
Hansen said he moved to Manteno a year ago. The retired gunnery sergeant served 21 years in the Marines Corps, having enlisted at the age of 18. Hansen is recuperating from back surgery he had late last year as well as dealing with PTSD.
Since the governor’s stay-at-home order, Hansen said he has not been able to continue physical therapy for the back surgery as well as therapy for his PTSD. Part of the therapy comes from Hansen using camping and fishing to cope. Those were taken away by the governor’s orders.
According to the suit, Hansen said Pritzker had no legal authority in ordering the isolation or quarantine of citizens and closure of businesses.
“I took an oath when I entered the Marines to support and defend the Constitution of the United States from enemies, both foreign and domestic,” Hansen said. “I have an issue with the governor overstepping his powers after April 7.”
April 7 was the date when Priztker’s original 30-day order was set to expire. However, he issued a second 30-day executive order on April 1.
The four-count lawsuit said after the governor’s first 30-day order, all other authority on continued closures belonged to the Illinois Department of Public Health. The other three counts are as follows: Pritzker showed gross negligence in exceeding emergency authority granted by the Illinois Emergency Management Agency Act; a section of Pritzker’s March 20 and subsequent executive orders is void and violates procedural and substantive due process; asks for the court to grant a temporary injunction to Pritzker’s orders.
The court will not rule on that until Pritzker is served the lawsuit, which must take place within the next 30 days.
This is the not the first lawsuit against the governor that alleges he overstepped his authority during this pandemic.
State Representative Darren Bailey, R-Xenia, challenged Pritzker’s authority earlier this month when he filed a lawsuit in Clay County Circuit Court.
Among Bailey’s arguments has been Pritzker allegedly overstepping his executive authority by issuing more than one disaster proclamation during the COVID-19 pandemic. Bailey has also alleged only the state’s Department of Public Health has the authority to shut down businesses.
The U.S. Attorney General’s office for the Southern District of Illinois argued that the case stay in Clay County, while Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul’s office argued the matter should be heard in federal court.
Bailey’s attorney, Thomas Devore, said last month, “I want to get the message of the law out there. Let’s look at what is the genesis of the authority that the governor is trying to wield.”
Clay County Judge Michael McHaney had previously ruled in Bailey’s favor, but Bailey voluntarily gave up that victory and DeVore filed a new lawsuit that is currently pending.