Jacksonville attorneys sue to block Republican National Convention

A group of attorneys in Jacksonville, Fla., filed a lawsuit on Wednesday to block the Republican National Convention from taking place in the city next month.

The lawsuit, filed in Duval County, points to several arguments why the city should not host the event as Florida’s case numbers continue to spike, saying the convention would be "a nuisance injurious to the health [and] welfare" of the community.

"To avoid community spread of COVID-19 and to protect the health and welfare of Plaintiffs and the community, it is necessary and essential that all super spreader events where large numbers of people congregate in close proximity indoors not occur,” the suit reads. 

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The attorneys filed the lawsuit days after Florida set a record for the most COVID-19 cases confirmed in a single day in a state during the pandemic, with 11,458 cases on Saturday. Overall, Florida has documented 223,783 total cases and 3,889 fatalities, and Duval County accounts for 10,439 of those cases and 70 of the deaths, according to state data.

The attorneys attribute the rise in cases in Florida to the loosening of restrictions in the state, particularly on public gatherings. 

Their suit warns that "the congregation of thousands of people in close proximity for extended periods of time will constitute a nuisance and result in massive spread of COVID-19 among the persons in attendance and throughout the City of Jacksonville and Northeast Florida and interfere in Plaintiffs' use and enjoyment of their property and right to be free of infliction of disease and death."

The attorneys request that the VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena should only admit no more than 2,500 people, leaving at least 12,500 seats of the arena “isolated or roped off” to ensure social distancing. 

The convention was originally scheduled to take place in North Carolina, but the president moved his acceptance speech for the Republican nomination to Jacksonville after sparring with North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper (D) over coronavirus restrictions. 

Spokesman Mike Reed said in a statement that the Republican National Committee is "committed to holding a safe convention" that follows local health restrictions.

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"The event is still almost two months away, and we are planning to offer health precautions including but not limited to temperature checks, available PPE, aggressive sanitizing protocols, and available COVID-19 testing," he said.

"We have a great working relationship with local leadership in Jacksonville and the state of Florida, and we will continue to coordinate with them in the months ahead," he added.

The Trump campaign deferred to the Republican National Committee for comment.

The city announced last week it would mandate that people wear face masks in public indoor locations where social distancing is not possible. 

Updated at 8:53 a.m.