Wisconsin brewery owner helps parents sue after kids are infected with COVID-19
MINOCQUA, Wis. (CBS 58) -- A Wisconsin brewery is taking a bold approach to state schools who do not protect the spread of coronavirus.
The Minocqua Brewing Company Super PAC announced they will sue "every school board in Wisconsin that doesn't follow CDC guidelines" on Sunday, Oct. 11.
The effort comes as many schools are battling a surge of COVID-19 infection that has led some districts to temporarily close, shift to online learning and quarantine students.
Kirk Bandstad, owner of Minocqua Brewing Company Super PAC, is funding the lawsuits to help parents sue school districts after their child became infected with COVID-19.
"I got flooded with parents across Wisconsin who are super upset, scared and felt powerless to protect their children," said Bandstad. "If they had masks in these schools, these kids could actually get an education."
On Friday, the first federal lawsuit filed in Wisconsin's Eastern District was against Waukesha School District. Days later, the second was filed in Wisconsin's Western District against the Fall Creek School District, claiming they failed to follow CDC's recommended COVID-19 guidelines for K-12 schools.
The civil lawsuits by two mothers, Gina Kildahl and Shannon Jensen, are nearly identical. The parents allege classmates infected their children with COVID-19 after both districts ended their COVID-19 policies, including mask mandates, according to the lawsuit.
Within a few weeks into the school year, both children tested positive and the parents blame the districts for not enforcing mask policies, contact tracing and quarantining sick students.
Jensen claims, in the lawsuit, the district and its board are “knowingly, needlessly, unreasonably and recklessly exposing the public to Covid-19, interfering with the general public’s right to be free from unnecessary exposure to infectious diseases like Covid-19, and endangering public health."
In the lawsuit against Fall Creek School District, Kildahl compared the school to a “COVID-19 snake pit.”
The parents are asking the courts to order both districts to follow CDC-recommended COVID-19 protocols in effort to reduce the spread of the virus.
Bangstad said his efforts began after he grew frustrated watching school boards eliminate mask orders at the start of the school year. He started to get hundreds of people responding to his Facebook post asking if parents are concerned some districts are laxing COVID-19 mitigation efforts.
"These super-spreader events are happening in entire communities because kids are now vectors for this disease," said Bangstad. "It's such an easy bridge to build that communities are being hurt, than it is to say kids are not going to die, so let's take the masks off of them."
Rick Esenberg, a frequent litigator in state and federal courts, casted doubts on Bangstad's efforts.
"They have almost no chance of success," Esenberg said, president & general counsel for Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty.
"The reason has nothing to do with the particulars of COVID and masks, it has to do with the larger reluctance of courts to substitute their judgement for the policy judgment of local units of government," Esenberg said.
The Waukesha School District said they are not commenting at this time and are currently reviewing the lawsuit with their lawyers. Fall Creek School District did not immediately respond to request for comment.
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