Orange County, California restaurants are about to be enriched by $1.7 million thanks to the OC Board of Supervisors agreeing to settle a class-action lawsuit aimed at helping struggling restaurants to recoup the operational fees they were charged during COVID-19 lock-downs.
OrangeCountyLawyers.com has obtained a copy of the settlement here.
Plaintiff attorney Brian Kabateck filed the class action lawsuit in January 2021 in the Superior Courts of California against OC, the California Department of Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC) and many other counties (source).
As part of the settlement, fees paid for liquor licenses and health permits will be reimbursed to every OC restaurant including those that did not survive the COVID-inspired government-mandated closures and reduction in services.
“Orange County decided to do the right thing, and give some more money back to the restaurant owners,” Kabateck said. “They were able to also demonstrate to us that they made other benefits available during the dark days of COVID and afterwards for restaurant owners. This settlement is additional money to refund their fees when they couldn’t open or operate their restaurant either entirely or in part.”
Other counties named in the lawsuit include Los Angeles, San Francisco, Sacramento, Monterey, Sonoma, Santa Clara, San Bernardino, Riverside, Contra Costa, and Placer counties.
However, not every county has settled as promptly as OC.
“Orange County made this a priority, and we thank them for that,” Kabateck told OrangeCountyLawyers.com. “These counties that are holding out will face a long road and a lot of legal fees, costs and expenses before this is over and how about the goodwill of just doing the right thing?”
Contra Costa, San Bernardino, Placer, Monterey, and Los Angeles are among the counties that have not complied. At $4.5 million San Diego County has settled their claim with the largest amount of money.
“San Diego paid more money as part of a settlement because Orange County was able to show us that they did provide other benefits in terms of millions of dollars to restaurant owners who were stricken by COVID so that impacted our decision to accept a smaller amount of money from Orange County,” Kabateck said.
At the height of the pandemic, Southern California region restaurants had been limited to 25% capacity for indoor dining and prohibited from offering outdoor dining options.
“We still have a lawsuit pending against the state of California for the alcohol licenses,” Kabateck added. “That’s the one I don’t understand, and that’s for all restaurants, including restaurants in Orange County who had to pay their licensing fee to the Department and couldn’t use it for much of the time during COVID. There were exceptions where restaurants could ‘take out’ alcohol but not all restaurants did that.”
Juliette Fairley covers legal topics for various publications including the Southern California Record, the Epoch Times and Pacer Monitor-News. Prior to discovering she had an ease and facility for law, Juliette lived in Orange County and Los Angeles where she pursued acting in television and film.