Slidewaters Waterpark reaches settlement
A popular Washington waterpark has settled its dispute with the state Department of Health over the park’s refusal to comply with Covid-19 emergency orders last summer.
In defiance of Governor Jay Inslee’s orders closing non-essential businesses, Slidewaters Waterpark opened in June, operating for almost 30 days before the state ordered its closure in mid-July.
The conservative nonprofit Freedom Foundation represented Slidewaters when it unsuccessfully sued to overturn the Governor’s pandemic orders in federal court.
On July 14, Chief U.S. District Judge Thomas Rice signed an order dismissing their lawsuit, ruling the Governor’s orders are lawful and the Department of Labor and Industries has the power to enforce them.
The Foundation now says the Department of Health has agreed to drop its threat to impose heavy fines on Slidewaters and revoke its permits.
The state and Slidewaters also agreed to discuss the regulations necessary to reopen for the 2021 summer season.
According to the settlement document, neither side admits any wrongdoing, and the Health Department will no longer threaten Slidewaters with a fine.
The park is still pursuing two more appeals challenging state mandates in the Washington State Board of Industrial Insurance Appeals and the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.
According to Sydney Phillips, the Freedom Foundation lead attorney on the Slidewater case, if the Foundation prevails in those cases, it may help other seasonal and non-seasonal businesses in Washington state.
“That is the goal – to get some clarification from the court about what the Governor is allowed to do, what the Department of Labor and Industries is allowed to do – to recognize that all of these business owners have rights and just because we’re in a pandemic doesn’t mean that their rights go away,” Phillips said.