Ex-Springfield councilwoman files lawsuit against city of Springfield for masking mandate

Published: Jul. 23, 2020 at 8:13 AM CDT|Updated: Jul. 23, 2020 at 6:59 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - A former Springfield City Councilwoman filed a lawsuit against the city, its mayor and its council members regarding its masking mandate.

The lawsuit, filed by Kristi Fulnecky on behalf of her client, Rachel Shelton, petitions the court for an injunction against the city mask ordinance. The suit states the “state of emergency to protect human life” used to pass the ordinance is an overreach of government and points to the Greene County death rate of .016%. The city of Springfield refutes the death rate statistic, saying the state 1.04%.

“It’s not the city council’s place to take care of my heath, that’s my responsibility. The city council’s place is to run the city and to protect my rights,” Shelton said.

There were dozens of people at the news conference hosted by Fulnecky supporting her and Shelton for “standing up” to city government that they claim is taking away your rights.

“Your health is not my responsibility. Your emotional well being is not my responsibility,” Shelton said.

Former councilwoman Kristi Fulnecky filed the suit on Shelton’s behalf.

”I think it was unconstitutional and it should be struck down. It was very rushed,” Fulnecky said.

“Mandating the public to wear masks is a violation of civil rights and a blatant overreach of the city government,” states Fulnecky. “My client has a right to choose to wear a mask – whether it’s outside, in her place of business, or at church. The very grounds used by the mayor and city council to pass this ordinance are absurd. The chances of dying from violent crime in our city are higher than the chance of dying from Covid-19. A strain on a county department is not a reason to declare a state of emergency. Our law enforcement officers have more important things to focus their attention on and the residents and visitors of Springfield deserve the right to choose.”

The lawsuit lists Shelton’s claustrophobia as one reason. Others include perceived violations of privacy and religion.

”They don’t want to be forced to wear a mask in church and some of the pastors don’t want to force their petitioners to wear a mask if they don’t want to,” Fulnecky said.

During the news conference Shelton said, “they have created Nazi Germany here.”

We asked if she felt that was a fair comparison.

”Yes I do,” she said.

The suit especially points to the death rate, which claimed was very low .016%. Steve Edwards, President of Cox Health said the way they calculate it was wrong.

”When people divide the deaths by the total population they’re underestimating the impact because the population is going to grow in infections,” Edwards said.

The death rate is actually a little above one percent in Greene County, which Shelton says is still not high enough for a state of emergency. Craig McCoy, president of Mercy Hospital disagrees.

”How do you define it? Is it one life, is it 100 lives?” McCoy said. “What determines when we’re at a point that ‘oh it would make sense to do this? I mean that’s taking a really big stance.”

Both hospital officials say they feel many people who oppose the mask ordinance need to take a look at the science behind it.

”It’s not stopping you from getting the disease, the mask is stopping you from spreading it,” McCoy said.

”I think wearing a mask has proven to be more effective than we thought and could avoid a shut down,” Edwards said.

City of Springfield leaders say they have not been served with the lawsuit.

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