- An Indiana woman is suing the CDC and multiple retailers over mask requirements.
- “I’ve been horribly discriminated against,” Jennifer J. Reinoehl, who has asthma, told Insider.
- The WHO says masks are “a key measure to suppress transmission and save lives.”
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
An Indiana woman has filed a lawsuit against the CDC and multiple retailers, alleging that their mask requirements violated laws meant to protect people with disabilities.
Krispy Kreme, Sephora, and AMC Theaters were among the 16 named defendants in the lawsuit filed on August 18 by Jennifer J. Reinoehl in US District Court for the Northern District of Indiana.
“I’ve been horribly discriminated against, and not been allowed to enter a lot of stores,” Reinoehl, who suffers from asthma, said in a phone interview on Wednesday. “I’ve been harassed.”
The 380-page filing included details of Rieneohl’s interactions with each retail outlet. Over the last year, she had been asked to leave an AMC Theater for not wearing a mask.
She’d also been stopped at the door at Krispy Kreme and Sephora. And in her unincorporated corner of Indiana, a local health clinic said she couldn’t keep visiting without wearing a mask, despite her asthma.
Both The White House and the CDC have said repeatedly that masks are one part of an effective defense against the spread of COVID-19.
“Vaccines are the best defense, but masks are extremely helpful as well,” President Joe Biden said earlier this month.
The World Health Organization has agreed, saying masks are “a key measure to suppress transmission and save lives.”
Reinoehl and her husband went to an AMC in Elkhart for their anniversary last fall, according to the lawsuit.
When Reinoehl told the manager she had a disability and couldn’t wear a mask, the theater told her she’d have to leave and refunded her money, the lawsuit said.
“It would have been easy for [Reinoehl] and her masked husband to stay six feet away from any other patron since there were few (if any) people in attendance,” the lawsuit said.
Insider has reached out Krispy Kreme, Sephora, and AMC for comment. Menards, a Midwest chain that was also named as a defendant, declined to comment.
Reinoehl, who has a B.S. in biology, also included in her lawsuit reams of exhibits, many of them historical studies and documents. They included a 1919 report from the Secretary of the Navy that called into question whether masks worked.
“They did research across all the bases and the United States Navy,” she told Insider. “In fact, they even quarantined an entire island. And they said the only thing you can do if a pandemic comes again is build more hospitals.”
She said masks were non-medical devices that couldn’t be mandated unless they were certified as effective by the Food and Drug Administration.
Reinoehl, who is a non-denominational Protestant Christian, said she fasted and prayed for about a month earlier this year, seeking a solution to pandemic safety measures that she saw as cut-and-dry government overreach. She said the answer she found was that she should bring the lawsuit.
“I felt like God was directing me to file a lawsuit,” she said. “Because I know I’m not the only person. There have been other people who’ve told me they struggle, and they’ve probably had some even worse experiences than me.”
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