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Florida lawmaker files lawsuit against Manatee County, one of 14 lawsuits against mask mandates

State Rep. Anthony Sabatini has filed 14 lawsuits against face mask orders across Florida.

MANATEE COUNTY, Fla. — A week after passing a face mask mandate, Manatee County faces a lawsuit over the order from a state lawmaker.

State Rep. Anthony Sabatini and The Rev. Joel Tillis on Monday announced the lawsuit against the county. Tillis is named as the plaintiff in the suit.

In the Manatee County suit, Tillis is described as a business owner who has been "personally and adversely affected by the mandate to wear a mask." The complaint also claims Tillis' "expectation of privacy has been invaded and infringed by Manatee County."

Tillis said the mask order should not apply to churches and other houses of worship because he believes it interferes with prayer.

The suit seeks an emergency injunction against the mandate, which requires people to wear face coverings in businesses when social distancing isn't possible.

RELATED: Manatee County commissioners pass face mask order

The suit against Manatee County isn't the only one Sabatini, a Republican from Howey-in-the-Hills, has announced and attached his name to when it comes to fighting mask orders. Statewide, there have been 14 lawsuits filed against various cities and counties.

In the Tampa Bay area, there have been lawsuits against Hillsborough and Pinellas counties as well. 

RELATED: Florida lawmaker to file lawsuit against Pinellas County mask mandate

Here's where other mask mandate lawsuits have been filed:

  • Broward
  • Miami-Dade
  • Orange
  • Seminole
  • Palm Beach
  • Leon
  • Martin
  • Collier
  • City of DeLand
  • City of Jacksonville
  • City of St. Augustine
  • City of Key West

Back in June, Sabatini said he had sent a letter to Gov. Ron DeSantis urging the governor to issue an executive order to restrict the authority of local governments to enforce and punish those who don't follow mandated face mask rules. 

According to Florida Politics, Sabatini is now facing an ethics complaint related to the Broward County lawsuit. The complaint was filed by Florida Politics publisher Peter Schorsch, who in the article said Sabatini is using "his official House email to respond to press inquiries regarding the lawsuit, filed in his capacity as a private attorney, not an elected official."

"What he's not allowed to do is use his official House communication to boost his message," Schorsch wrote.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and health experts around the world say widespread face mask usage can help slow the spread of COVID-19. Recent studies affirmed "that cloth face coverings are a critical tool in the fight against COVID-19 that could reduce the spread of the disease, particularly when used universally within communities," the CDC wrote.

“We are not defenseless against COVID-19,” CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield said. “Cloth face coverings are one of the most powerful weapons we have to slow and stop the spread of the virus – particularly when used universally within a community setting. All Americans have a responsibility to protect themselves, their families, and their communities.” 

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