Attorney files lawsuit over Hillsborough County mask-mandate

Fernando Cespedes sells medical insurance for a living, but now he says local officials want him to take on a new role.

 "I don't want to be the enforcer. I'm their agent. I'm not the police. I'm not the governor. That's not my job," explained Cespedes.

Since 2011, Fernando has owned Tampa-based Family Focus Insurance Solutions but now he's worried he may lose it all if he has to enforce a new face-mask order.

This week, Hillsborough County's Emergency Policy Group said wearing a face mask is now mandatory in area businesses. The order puts the burden on business owners to make sure their customers are using face coverings.

If not, the business faces fines, penalties, and even jail time. Fernando says enough is enough, so he is filing a lawsuit.

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"If I get fined, my license can be revoked or suspended and, guess what happens? I'm gonna lose my customers, my agency," said Cespedes.

Fernando's attorney, Patrick Leduc, has taken on the EPG before, pushing back on a curfew order. He won that battle and hopes to win this one, too.

"Get your act together. Stop passing executive orders that are terrible," said Leduc, adding he believes the EPG doesn't have the legal authority to pass such a mandate.

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That job, he says, belongs to the county commission. He says having business owners policing their customers is unlawful, too.

"This case is not about masks and whether or not you should wear one or whether or not you shouldn’t. Process matters. The rule of law matters. The Constitution matters," argued Leduc.    

Fernando wants to make it clear he has no issue with wearing a face mask. He just doesn't want to be penalized if his customers don't.

Leduc says three Bay Area businesses will likely be part in the lawsuit.