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Minnesota AG sues rodeo owner for violating COVID-19 order

MINNEAPOLIS — Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison on Friday filed a complaint against an Itasca County company that organized and promoted a three-day rodeo that allegedly drew large crowds after the state imposed a spectator limit for the event.

Ellison’s action came after the state Department of Health announced that one spectator at the North Star Stampede Rodeo July 25-27 in Effie has tested positive for COVID-19 and was infectious at the time they attended the rodeo.

Ellison said the owner of North Star Ranch, LLC was upset with the governor’s executive order to limit the event to 250 fans and promoted the event on its Facebook page as a protest against government overreach. The complaint said there were “far more than 250 attendees” at each of the three events.

Ellison is seeking unspecified damages against the company, as well as up to $25,000 in civil penalties for each of the numerous violations described in the complaint.

The company’s answering machine was not accepting messages Friday.

“Business owners and event operators need to know that they are not above the law.” Ellison said in a statement. “If they risk the health and safety of our communities, my office will take strong action, as we are doing today.”

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