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Lawsuit over St. Louis mask rules sent back to state court

A virtual hearing was held in St. Louis County Circuit Court Tuesday morning with Judge Ellen Ribaudo saying she will file a written decision by the end of the day

ST. LOUIS — A federal judge on Sunday ruled that state courts should handle a lawsuit to overturn St. Louis-area mask mandates.

Judge Stephen Clark of the Eastern Missouri U.S. District Court sent the case back to state court, saying that the mask-mandate challenge primarily deals with state laws.

A virtual hearing was held in St. Louis County Circuit Court Tuesday morning with Judge Ellen Ribaudo saying she will file a written decision by the end of the day.

Ribaudo said the state's low vaccination rates have raised the stakes on the decision.

Missouri's Republican Attorney General Eric Schmitt last week filed the lawsuit in state court in hopes of blocking the new mask mandates in St. Louis city and county, which took effect last week. 

Lawyers for the city and county later asked a federal judge to take up the case instead.

But Clark ruled that the issue deals with state laws on local health orders almost exclusively. He said local judges should be the ones to decide the case.

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