LIVINGSTON PARISH, La. (WAFB) - The smoke billowing in the air around Firehouse BBQ in Watson, Louisiana will remain for a few more weeks at least. On Tuesday, Sept. 1, a hearing in the 21st Judicial District Court was postponed pending a decision by the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals.
The issue at hand is which court has jurisdiction over a lawsuit filed against the restaurant’s owner, Eunice Danielle Bunch. Judge Brian Abels ultimately ruled that because of the claims being made against Bunch and the fact that she resides in Livingston Parish, he had jurisdiction over the matter, but all sides ultimately agreed the issue of jurisdiction should be decided by a higher court.
Abels says he does not want to go through this process only to have whatever his judgment is to be voided because of a jurisdictional issue.
Typically, cases involving statewide legal issues are handled in the 19th Judicial District Court (JDC) as it is the seat of state government.
The 19th JDC has already ruled on a similar case to that of Firehouse BBQ. Judge Janice Clark deemed Governor John Bel Edwards was within his power to issue orders, such as closing bars and limiting restaurant capacity, during a public health emergency.
Executive counsel for Gov. Edwards’ office, Matthew Block, would not comment on any potential moves. He only said he believes the case for mask mandates is strong and is within the rights of the governor to mandate.
Attorneys for Firehouse BBQ and the State of Louisiana have until Sept. 11 to file an appeal.
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