A U.S. federal judge in Tampa has given Florida and the CDC until 01JUN to start mediation in the hopes of settling the civil suit filed by the state against the federal agency out of court.
In APR, Florida filed the suit to force the CDC to immediately overturn its Conditional Sail Order that has put restrictions on cruise ships operating in American waters. Alaska, the second largest cruise state, as well as Texas, joined that suit.
The South Florida Sun Sentinel and other media report that, in a hearing Wednesday, lawyers representing the state argued “the agency overstepped its authority”, while Justice Department lawyers countered on behalf of the CDC that “the state has no authority to dictate when and where” cruising can resume.
While the federal judge hearing the matter reportedly told both sides “he would try to expedite a decision”, he sent the two opposing sides to mediation first.
He also allowed the American Society of Travel Advisors to file a ‘friend of the court’ brief supporting Florida’s position, largely based on “economic damages suffered by the industry and communities outside Florida.”
“Plainly, the outcome of this case will affect far more Americans than just the 159,000 Floridians whose livelihoods are tied in one way or another to the cruise industry,” ASTA lawyers wrote in their petition to be heard.
“The impact… goes well beyond the economic, as this case raises broader concerns about the freedom of individuals to travel as they see fit and infringes upon their fundamental rights,” ASTA argued.