PHILADELPHIA (CN) - A New Jersey Turnpike plaza operator didn't trample the constitutional rights of a strip club when it ordered the club's brochures removed from the plaza's displays, the Third Circuit ruled.
PRBA Corporation, which operates what it calls "Atlantic City's Only All Nude Entertainment" under the name Bare Exposure, argued that service plaza operator HMS Host Toll Roads Inc. acted under the color of state law when it removed Bare Exposure's brochures from brochure racks in south New Jersey. Bare Exposure claimed that the removal violated its First and Fourteenth Amendment rights.
Host is a private company that operates the plaza under contract with the South Jersey Transportation Authority and the New Jersey Turnpike Authority.
In a brief ruling dispatching the complaint, Judge D. Brooks Smith upheld the district court's ruling in favor of Host and the New Jersey Turnpike Authority, writing that Bare Exposure's evidence of entwinement between the plaza operator and the state-run authority was anemic at best.
"There was no personnel overlap between the authorities and Host, and no specific involvement of the authorities in Host's decision to remove the brochures," Smith wrote in Thursday's ruling.
Bare Exposure argued that images of Gov. Chris Christie posted in the plaza showed some indication of the state's involvement in the plaza. It also claimed that an agreement between Host and the turnpike authority allowing for varying revenues instead of a fixed lease depending on certain factors established more than an a mere contractual relationship.
But the Philadelphia-based appeals court disagreed.
"The mere perception of governmental control is insufficient for finding state action under the entwinement test," Smith wrote.
Bare Exposure initially sued Host and the state authority in 2012 after Host removed the brochures. A New Jersey federal judge dismissed the case in February.
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