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Judge sides with DeLand over Anthony Sabatini in mask lawsuit

It’s the sixth loss for Sabatini and the second in less than a week.

A Volusia County Circuit Judge dismissed a challenge against a DeLand ordinance requiring people to wear masks inside businesses and other indoor locations.

“Because extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures, state and local governments all over America are enacting emergency laws designed to protect their citizens from the spread of this deadly virus — just like they did 100 years ago,” Circuit Judge Randell H. Rowe III wrote in the judgment. “The ordinance is authorized not only by statute, but by well settled case law precedent dating back over a hundred years.”

In an attempt to slow the spread of COVID-19 in the city, the DeLand City Commission passed the mask law in an emergency meeting July 2. It requires mask-wearing inside businesses, and provides for fines of $25 for a first offense, $50 for a second and $100 for a third.

The judge issued the ruling in a lawsuit filed by Rep. Anthony Sabatini, who has now failed six times in getting the courts to overturn local ordinances requiring residents to wear masks in public.

It’s also the second loss for Sabatini in less than a week — on Aug. 26, Judge David Frank of the 2nd Circuit Court upheld Gadsden County’s mask mandate and warned the Lake County lawmaker that if he continued filing “frivolous lawsuits” he could face judicial sanction.

“Once the law on a particular subject is well established, a lawsuit based on consistently rejected grounds will be frivolous unless there is, ‘a reasonable argument for the extension, modification, or reversal of existing law,” Frank wrote.

In the Monday ruling regarding Volusia, Rowe also noted Sabatini’s prolific filings, noting he filed more than a dozen lawsuits challenging similar ordinances across the state.

Sabatini has argued mask mandates are “unconstitutional.”

He argues such mandates violate basic rights and due process. The crux of his argument lies in the privacy clause in the state’s governing document.

Rowe said the ordinance complies with the Florida Constitution.

“The Court cannot help but note that the only way the Plaintiff might suffer irreparable harm here is if the City’s face mask ordinance is found unconstitutional and the Plaintiff, therefore, is placed at greater risk of contracting COVID-19 because the citizens of DeLand stop wearing face coverings in public,” Rowe wrote.

The man Sabatini represented in the DeLand case did not testify how his right to privacy was being violated by DeLand’s ordinance, which requires residents to wear masks whenever they are indoors at a business.

Sabatini has also railed against fines associated the ordinances in DeLand and other cities and counties, though, as reported by the Daytona Beach News-Journal, DeLand City Manager Michael Pleus said no fines have been assessed since the city commission voted 4-1 to establish the ordinance early last month.

Sabatini came out as an early critic of face covering requirements, which he has attributed to “mask Nazis.” Most recently, he pinned the proliferation of such ordinances on Democrats in local government, even though Volusia and many other jurisdictions with masks are Republican-controlled.

“The real reason Democrats are pushing for state and nation-wide mask-mandates is because they are mad that Republicans are better looking and by covering up all faces they don’t have to be reminded of this fact,” he tweeted. This logic has yet to make its way into an official court filing.

While controversial, 24 Florida counties and more than 70 municipalities have implements requirements of some sort.

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