NM Supreme Court rules that businesses affected by COVID restrictions are not entitled to compensation

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — About 20 lawsuits were filed in district courts across New Mexico last year, seeking compensation from the state because of its public health emergency orders during the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to a new ruling from the New Mexico Supreme Court Monday, there is no constitutional or statutory requirement to compensate businesses for financial losses and expenses from those COVID-related restrictions.

In a unanimous opinion, the court concluded that the public health orders "cannot support a claim for a regulatory taking requiring compensation" under the state constitution.

The court also concluded that the current public health orders "are a reasonable exercise of the police power to protect the public health."

"Occupancy limits and closure of certain categories of businesses, while certainly harsh in their economic effects, are directly tied to the reasonable purpose of limiting the public’s exposure to the potentially life-threatening and communicable disease, and thus can be deemed ‘reasonably necessary,”’ the Court wrote in an opinion by Justice C. Shannon Bacon.

The attorney representing the businesses said he plans to take the case to the U.S. Supreme Court.

"We think that ultimately the United States Supreme Court is going to have to straighten out around the country," said A. Blair Dunn.