Wilmington area gym owner files complaint against governor over executive orders

Second suit filed by Reopen NC Health Clubs group

Photo of Muscleworx fitness sign via Muscleworx Facebook page.

RALEIGH — A Wilmington area gym owner who had previously been cited by law enforcement for trying to reopen his gym has filed a complaint against Gov. Roy Cooper over his executive orders keeping health and fitness facilities closed.

“I think the legislators need to take a good hard look at what Gov. Cooper is doing under the guise of the safety of the people of the state of North Carolina,” Morgan said. “The numbers do not justify it. Especially in New Hanover County – they don’t justify it – and across the state, they don’t justify it.”

Jason Morgan, the owner and operator of MuscleWorx Fitness, tells North State Journal that his attorney is filing the complaint today seeking a temporary restraining order against Cooper’s executive order 130 and all other orders that mention gyms, health clubs or fitness facilities.

The suit was filed by Barry Henline, an attorney practicing in the Wilmington and Carolina Beach area.

“Gyms need to stand up and they need to seek the help of legal counsel,” said Morgan. “They need to know what is going on from a legal aspect before they just open up.”

Morgan says that Cooper’s orders to shut down his business have likely cost him upwards of $100,000 in lost revenue. He says that he has not been able to obtain any financial assistance from federal or state sources. Morgan also said that like the hundreds of thousands of others in the state, he has yet to receive an unemployment insurance check.

The original location for MuscleWorx Fitness was a 9,000 square foot facility. When the governor issued his orders to shut down businesses, Morgan said his landlord wanted to seek a tenant who would not be affected by the closure and that he was forced to move into a smaller location of only 3,000 square feet.

“I lost 66% of my business space,” said Morgan who added that he also lost the ability to hold a youth wrestling club that had 50 kids “on the books.”

Morgan is also an administrator on the Reopen NC Health Clubs Facebook page and says that his suit is separate from the one being considered by that group.

Last week,  “Reopen NC’s Health Clubs” Facebook page has formed with the purpose of filing a suit against the governor for keeping gyms and fitness facilities closed. The group now has over 6,600 members, including over 160 gym owners.

Reopen NC Health Clubs has retained the firm of Kitchen and Turrentine in Raleigh. That same firm represented Hair is Essential, a group of salon owners who were planning to sue the governor for keeping salons shuttered.

Robin Smith, one of the co-founders for the Reopen NC Health Clubs page, announced this on Wednesday they were filing their suit as well.

“Attorney Chuck Kitchen filed on our behalf today in Wake County Superior Court,” said Smith on the group’s Facebook page.

Kitchen told Smith that “The State is sued, but no one can open unless and until we get the TRO. So now we have to wait on the Court system.”  Read the complaint and the motion requesting a temporary restraining order.

The group has already surpassed their GoFundMe goal of $15,000 to pay for legal fees.

About A.P. Dillon 971 Articles
A.P. Dillon is a North State Journal reporter located near Raleigh, North Carolina. Find her on Twitter: @APDillon_