Adult Shop Protest Spat Remains Unresolved
(CN) - An "adult-based business" waited too long to rebut a Catholic brotherhood for holding religious rituals near its store against police orders, a federal judge ruled.
The King's Men, a Pennsylvania nonprofit Catholic brotherhood, aims to "build up other men in the mold of leader, protector, and provider," according to its website. It says engages in "noble battles" against "abortion, pornography and the defense of traditional marriage."
For the group, pornography is the "root cause" of "fornication, adultery, sexual abuse, rape, incest, the contraceptive mentality, divorce and abortion."
As part of its "No More Porn Tour," the King's Men allegedly went to protest at Routes 202 and 309 Novelties and Gifts Inc. dba Adult World in North Wales, Pa., on Aug. 3, 2011.
Adult World said the Montgomery Township Police eventually had the protesters move to an easement in front of the business, but the group continued to hand out literature to passing drivers. This allegedly caused a traffic jam and abrupt stops to avoid collisions.
The King's Men even buried medals in the ground, apparently as part of a religious ceremony, while a leader told the media that Adult World was committing illegal acts, Adult World said.
About a month later, the group allegedly returned to protest at the store, using placards to obstruct the path of employees and customers.
Though police told the protesters to stop, they blocked traffic again, Adult World said.
Adult World sought punitive damages from King's Men for trespass; public and private nuisance; and violations of free speech, the Sherman Act, and federal anti-racketeering law.
The King's Men, in turn, filed a counterclaim for violations of free speech and assembly.
After it failed to have the counterclaim dismissed in November 2012, Adult World had 14 days, or until Dec. 4, to file an answer.
The store drew the ire of Chief U.S. District Judge Petrese Tucker by missing this deadline.
In this instance, Adult World inexcusably "never attempted to answer defendants' counterclaim until, at the earliest, June 26, 2013, almost eight months after the answer was due," after the close of discovery.
Adult World also does not deserve summary judgment, the court found.
"Viewing plaintiff's admissions in the light most favorable to defendant, the court invariably reaches an identical conclusion to the one reached in deciding the motion to dismiss: the facts of the counterclaim, now admitted by the plaintiff, are legally sufficient such that plaintiff is not entitled to judgment as a matter of law," Tucker wrote.
The King's Men also failed, however, to obtain summary judgment, with Tucker finding no support yet that Adult World conspired with police, lawyers, and others to violate the brotherhood's rights by filing "baseless" lawsuits.
"Beyond this conclusory assertion, there is no evidence of record on which the court could find an agreement or understanding between plaintiff and any of the other parties mentioned," Tucker wrote. "Plaintiff's judicial admissions to the facts within this paragraph do not establish a conspiracy; a conspiracy can only be inferred."