Superior Court Judge Grants Injunction Closing BSF Gym Over COVID-19 Restrictions

Owners vow ‘to stay open’

By Michael Hernandez

VENTURA—Superior Court Judge Henry J. Walsh today in Courtroom 42 granted a preliminary injunction closing (Better Stronger Faster) BSF Gym and Fitness Center. Gym co-owner Lindsey Cohn when asked on the court room stand, if she intended to close the gym said: “I will do whatever God tells me.” The out-of-court response by gym co-owner Josh Cohn: “(I am) not going to die at home.”

BSF Fitness Co-Owner Lindsey Cohn sworn in at injunction hearing, Judge Henry Walsh presiding, Ventura County Superior Court, 9-4-20. Photo: Michael Hernandez/CitizensJournal.us

BSF Attorney James Armstrong called the court order an “extension of the Temporary Restraining Order (TRO)” and argued in court that the Cohn’s had done nothing more than what Jean Valjean (in the Victor Hugo novel Les Misérables) did in taking a loaf of bread to feed his family (their two children: three-year-old Kaylin an four-year-old Bailey). Even if I did not agree what they do; I will defend to my death what they do,” said Armstrong.

The BSF Gym located at 4580 Market Street has been open since May 18 after closing for two months prior to that date due to Governor Gavin Newsom’s state order and the subsequent health order issued by Ventura County Health Officer Dr. Robert Levin.

On Aug. 31, 50 supporters of the gym gathered in front of the Ventura Government Center and prayed for the Cohn’s just before they entered the Superior Courthouse. At that rally, Lindsey Cohn told the Citizens Journal: “Our independent gym will die if we do not stay open. The State of California has been fighting our open gym and Ventura County and the City of Ventura (Dr. Robert Levin) have been enforcing a closure upon us.”

Asst. DA Andrew Reid stated the County’s case. (DA’s office photo)

Leading the argument against BSF Gym was attorney Andrew Reid (representing County District Attorney Gregory D. Totten) who argued that the March 4 state emergency declaration by Gov. Newsom followed by the March 12 declaration of a county emergency by Dr. Robert Levin gave the government broad authority “to protect public health” as well as to take “any preventive measures” which in this case included closing all indoor gym activity due to the fact that Ventura County was still under the state monitoring list of counties. According to Reid: “No one is trying to shut them down. We merely wish them to go outside.”

“BSF (Gym) is in violation (because they have) refused to comply with law,” said Reid who had prepared a power point in his presentation of The People v. BSF Gym. His presentation showed photos from the last three days showing that BSF was still open. He also stated that the Gym was contacted at least three times in July about Ventura Code compliance (July 15, 21, 30) and three times in August by Ventura County (Aug. 3, 5, 14) before receiving the Temporary Restraining Order on Aug. 21 which was then extended on Aug. 3. The initial complaint had come from an unidentified employee of Berkshire Hathaway (4574 Market St.) upset by the number of cars (which have tripled) using the parking lot in front of the gym. Some gym users have come from as far away as Bakersfield to use the “high-tech” gym equipment said Lindsey.

“We are here to ask the court for a preliminary injunction. Nothing less than that will prevent them from operating against the law,” said Reid.  This is due to “potential harm to the public” and also due to “unfair competition” by remaining open while other gyms are closed. “This is about them making a profit.”

During court testimony, Lindsey said that they had spent almost $2 million to purchase the 10,000 square foot facility they use and that their monthly payroll for 8-15 employees runs approximately $15,000 per month. Homeowners Association fees are an additional $1,000 per month. She stated they would already be out of business if they had not been successful in securing a personal loan and a Payroll Protection (PPP) loan from the federal government (loans that amounted to nearly $90,000).

“We disagree…on the alleged reputable harm” said attorney James Armstrong. “My clients have been trying to comply with both the state and county orders. There are no facts to support that they have operated a business to the disadvantage of other gym owners. This case is not about profiteering. It is about survival and survival under the existing order which was the basis of the Temporary Restraining Order. This is about survival and not profit. This is about their two (children).”

Defense Attorney Jim Armstrong, with clients Josh and Lindsey Cohn, at BSF Fitness injunction hearing, Ventura County Superior Court, 9-4-20. Photo: Michael Hernandez/CitizensJournal.us

Judge Henry Walsh said he was more concerned about any testimony “that this virus is not contagious, not a danger.  This is a communicable disease. There is no vaccine for it. There is no treatment for it.”

If, “BSF is allowed to continue operating indoors, it poses a significant risk to its members, neighbors and the community at large, whether they know it or not,” said Dr. Robert Levin in a slide presented by Reid.

Lindsey Cohn responded by stating that keeping the gym open was essential to keep individuals healthy and from contracting COVID-19. Court testimony was shared about the gym’s ventilation system, its air circulation, its open skylights and the retractable back door (almost a complete wall) that is kept open during all gym hours (4 a.m. to 10 p.m. on weeknights).

The gym owner told the Citizens Journal on Aug. 31: “We cannot be open outside because of air quality issues; lack of outdoor space that is ours; uneven payment (just outside the gym); the inability to anchor down our gym equipment” as well as limitations on what employees can move by OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration).

During court testimony, Lindsey said they had “absolutely modified operations” in an attempt to meet both the State and County health orders. BSF Gym gives all members entering the gym; a clean towel; and employees use gym wipes which cost approximately $600 every two days to clean equipment and all surfaces touched.

“No one who has used our gym has been infected with COVID-19,” said Lindsey. “We ask everyone coming in to sign a waiver, and ask them if they have COVID symptoms and we have a nurse on duty.”

When asked if they could do anything else to meet the State or County order, Lindsey said, “I wish we could but we cannot.” When she was asked if they had any other source of income; her reply was “No.” Lindsey said they provide masks for their members; but do not enforce mask wearing.

Other witness testimony came from Paul Thompson of Ventura, an employee who works the front desk, and a retired Ventura County Court Election Fraud investigator; former California Highway Patrol officer; as well as a Coast Guard pilot.

“They (BSF Gym) has done everything possible to modify (operations). This is big very expensive operation,” said Armstrong. “There are no more options for them. They are like Jean Valjean, persecuted and prosecuted for a loaf of bread to feed their children.”

Judge Walsh signed the preliminary injunction closing the business after the three-hour court hearing. BSF Gym has until Sept. 18 (30-days) from the original Temporary Restraining Order to file a response.

After the court hearing, the Ventura County District Attorney Gregory D. Totten released a news release on Judge Henry Walsh granting the preliminary injunction “Against Ventura Gym Violating Public Health Order.”

There are still restrictions on courtroom entry.

 

(Editor’s Note: To read the Citizens Journal original story on BSF Gym go to: https://www.citizensjournal.us/bsf-gym-superior-court-hearing-rescheduled-to-friday/. Also, the Citizens Journal did not spell correctly the last name of the gym owners.  The correct spelling is Lindsey and Josh Cohn. We regret the error.)

 

Michael Hernandez, Co-Founder of the Citizens Journal—Ventura County’s online news service; editor of the History Makers Report and founder of History Makers International—a community nonprofit serving youth and families in Ventura County, is a former Southern California daily newspaper journalist and religion and news editor. He worked 25 years as a middle school teacher in Monrovia and Los Angeles Unified School Districts. Mr. Hernandez can be contacted by email at [email protected].

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2 Responses to Superior Court Judge Grants Injunction Closing BSF Gym Over COVID-19 Restrictions

  1. Josh Slavin September 6, 2020 at 10:31 am

    This bares repeating…”If the judge is concerned about Covid-19, he should be shown the report from Italy that 99% of the supposed deaths from said virus were from another cause, and the report from the CDC that says the figure is 94% worldwide that people died from something other than Covid-19, while testing positive for it. Or show him the death rate from Ventura County, which is .00014 or .014% of the population. If this “pandemic” was a real problem, every homeless person in this county would be dead. We would all know someone personally who died from it, not with it. More people have committed suicide than have died from this, and this judge should have the eyes to see this, unless he is part of the group of elite who are taking over the world and destroying us. He needs to wake up, and you owners of the gym are a threat to the elite, that is why they are doing this to you. They can’t have strong, healthy people running around proving that there is nothing to fear. I hope, for humanity’s sake, that you and your gym prevail. I want to join it.”

    Reply
  2. Elizabeth L Hawkins September 5, 2020 at 3:53 pm

    If the judge is concerned about Covid-19, he should be shown the report from Italy that 99% of the supposed deaths from said virus were from another cause, and the report from the CDC that says the figure is 94% worldwide that people died from something other than Covid-19, while testing positive for it. Or show him the death rate from Ventura County, which is .00014 or .014% of the population. If this “pandemic” was a real problem, every homeless person in this county would be dead. We would all know someone personally who died from it, not with it. More people have committed suicide than have died from this, and this judge should have the eyes to see this, unless he is part of the group of elite who are taking over the world and destroying us. He needs to wake up, and you owners of the gym are a threat to the elite, that is why they are doing this to you. They can’t have strong, healthy people running around proving that there is nothing to fear. I hope, for humanity’s sake, that you and your gym prevail. I want to join it.

    Reply

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