Attorneys with the Los Angeles-based law firm Kabateck LLP have filed new class action lawsuits against the state and seven additional counties on behalf of restaurant owners seeking the return of state and local fees, including liquor licenses and health permits that were charged to restaurants even when they were closed and unable to operate. The legal action is a result of restaurants across the state facing unprecedented challenges to stay open and maintain cash reserves amid COVID-19 operating restrictions.
Plaintiffs just filed lawsuits in Contra Costa, Santa Clara, Monterey, Sonoma, San Bernardino, Riverside, and Placer Counties. In January, restaurant owners filed class actions lawsuits in San Diego, Orange, San Francisco, Sacramento Counties, and Los Angeles County in December 2020 in response to the government’s policy of restricting restaurant operations while still requiring the payment of full fees.
“We view this as significant government overreach,” said lead plaintiff attorney Brian Kabateck. “The defendants collected these fees at a time during the pandemic when officials were ordering the business to shut down or drastically limit operations,” added Kabateck.
Restaurants have been one of the hardest-hit industries with restrictions set by state and local entities. In nearly every corner of the state, restaurants were banned from operating all in-person dining. Owners willingly adjusted their operations to comply with the closure orders. “It’s offensive and tone-deaf for these entities to enforce these rules and charge fees for licenses and permits these businesses couldn’t use,” said Kabateck.
“The bills keep mounting with the endless fees that we have to pay just to operate a restaurant in Placer County,” said Sam Manolakas a lead plaintiff and owner of the Brookfields restaurant chain. “It’s a way for the county to accumulate more revenue without providing more services with the government restricting our ability to operate at a current capacity of 25% of normal,” added Manolakas.
California is home to nearly 60,000 restaurants, which employ approximately 1.5 million workers.
“For more than a year, restaurants have modified business operations, reduced hours, and, far too often, temporarily or permanently closed down. Still, restaurateurs are expected to pay burdensome state and local fees as if they were not forced to shut down or eliminate in-person dining,” said Jot Condie, president, and CEO of the California Restaurant Association.
“This action delivers a clear message about the willingness of restaurants to go the distance to recover fees. We expect thousands of restaurants will be willing to join the class action in their respective counties with the aim of total reimbursement for the fees and taxes that were inappropriately levied,” said Condie.
The plaintiffs are represented by attorneys Brian S. Kabateck, Shant Karnikian, and Marina R. Pacheco of the Los Angeles law firm Kabateck LLP and Timothy G. Blood with the San Diego based law firm Blood Hurst & O’Reardon, LLP. KBK is a nationally renowned plaintiff’s firm that litigates complex cases with an impressive record of success in the areas of personal injury, insurance bad faith, pharmaceutical litigation, wrongful death, class action, mass torts, and disaster litigation.
Link to complaints:
San Bernardino County: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1z4i3I83Y9Zj6Gf0ozgskmpvlhQoZTjj2/view?usp=sharing