Daniel Uhlfelder sues Ron DeSantis to close public beaches during pandemic
Daniel Uhlfelder is the man who has been a major pain for Mike Huckabee. Image via the Pensacola News Journal.

Governor has issued an order limiting large gatherings at beaches.

An attorney who gained national prominence in a legal fight over beach access now wants them all closed down.

Santa Rosa Beach attorney Daniel Uhlfelder has sued Gov. Ron DeSantis to close all of Florida’s beaches.

In a complaint filed in the Second Judicial Circuit, Uhlfelder contends DeSantis “has the responsibility to initiate immediate action to cope with the emerging health problems and try to prevent the spread of infectious diseases.”

The suit notes that DeSantis on Friday ordered beaches in Palm Beach and Broward counties closed, but has largely left the decision to local governments.

DeSantis has issued an executive order limiting gatherings on Florida beaches to 10 people or less. That’s in line with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to limit the community spread of the novel coronavirus.

But with beachgoers violating that routinely, particularly with spring breakers visiting the state, there has been an increasing public call for DeSantis to stop all beach visitation statewide.

It’s not universal. VISIT FLORIDA chair Virginia Haley said she supports letting local governments make the decision.

“There are different parts of the state with different highs and lows,” she said. “There are beaches in the state that are not crowded.”

But U.S. Sen. Rick Scott and 13 Congressional Democrats representing Florida have called for DeSantis to shut down all beaches in the state.

If the Governor won’t take that action himself, Uhlfelder said the courts should compel him to do so.

Uhlfelder previously gained prominence in a legal battle with former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, now a resident of Fort Walton Beach, over the ability to limit access to beaches.

Huckabee filed a bar complaint against Uhlfelder over the matter, and the attorney leveraged the attention to form a Super PAC.

The suit filed Friday was brought against DeSantis in his capacity as Governor and filed in Leon County because that’s where state government is headquartered.

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at [email protected].


  • Rena Anderson

    March 20, 2020 at 7:27 pm

    Thank you Jacob but I just wanted you to be aware that Governor Huckabee is a resident of Santa Rosa Beach not Fort Walton Beach.

  • Sheri

    March 21, 2020 at 5:28 pm

    Really a lawsuit for every Florida beach closing. Not helpful. Picturing Uhlfelder pounding his chest…Watch me….I Can file a law suit!!

  • DR & MRS G

    March 21, 2020 at 10:51 pm

    After working most of our lives in the Health Care field, we were appalled the Governor we voted for delayed taking any action to protect the citizens who voted for him. He has partially closed the barn door after the fact – and he is still doing nothing to enforce any of the mandates by the CDC. Can’t the National Guard clear our beaches? Please add our names to the petition. Another suit should be started to remove him from office. The deaths and infected blood is on his hands.
    We certainly regret voting for him – but, oh wait, his opponent is an alcoholic meth head. Please let someone with a social conscience, an average IQ and a backbone run for office in this state!

  • Pete Foley

    March 22, 2020 at 1:24 pm


    As much as I hate to see our beaches closed statewide, it’s the right and responsible thing to do and I fear Governor DeSantis is remiss in leaving the decision to local officials. It’s nbot an easy decision but human life is more precious than anything. [And BTW, Huck lives in Santa Rosa Beach, not Fort Walton Beach … unfortunately.]

    Please keep us posted on how this suit progresses. Thank you.

    Pete Foley
    Santa Rosa Beach/Atlanta

Comments are closed.


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