A Benton County speedway owner filed a lawsuit in federal court this week against the governor and others he alleges has unconstitutionally prevented his business from operating.
Michael Daugherty owns the dirt racetrack circuit Daugherty Speedway Inc., which was issued a cease-and-desist letter dated May 8 and threatened with criminal prosecution from the state, according to court documents.
Under Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb's Back on Track Indiana plan to reopen the state, raceways are not permitted to open at full capacity until July 4 and cannot invite spectators until June 14.
The racetrack "intended to require all patrons to practice 'social distancing,'" court documents read, but "commissioners blocked road access to the speedway."
The suit alleges Holcomb, Benton County commissioners Mike Freeland, Steve Cox and Bryan Berry and county Sheriff Don Munson did not have the authority to prevent the racetrack from opening. Munson had enforced the commissioners' order to block the road, the suit says.
The lawsuit contends that the actions to keep the track closed violated Daugherty's Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment rights and that the governor has no legal authority to prevent the business from opening.
"The order issued exceeds that needed to protect health and safety," it says. "There is no attempt to see if lesser measures will suffice to protect health and safety."
Daughtery requests a federal judge to nullify the state order to keep racetracks closed until July 4 and for monetary relief in the lawsuit filed by a Shelbyville, Indiana, attorney.