ATLANTA (CN) – A federal judge denied a strip club owner’s request to stop a city ordinance banning alcohol in adult businesses, finding that the club owner failed to show that the city’s decision was unreasonable.
In March 2010, the city council for Atlanta suburb Forest Park, Ga. passed an adult-entertainment ordinance banning the consumption or sale of alcohol in adult-entertainment establishments after Jan. 1, 2011, among other provisions.
Jack Galardi, the owner of two adult entertainment businesses located in Forest Park, challenged the alcohol provision of the ordinance. Galardi, who operates more than ten strip clubs scattered through Georgia, Florida and Nevada, filed a motion for preliminary injunction, seeking to prevent the enforcement of the ordinance.
In rejecting the injunction, U.S. District Judge Richard W. Story relied heavily on precedent set by the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals.
“The Eleventh Circuit has made clear that this Court’s level of scrutiny ‘requires deference to the reasoned judgment of a governmental entity: a city must have latitude to experiment, at least at the outset, and … very little evidence is required,'” the judge wrote, quoting an opinion by the 11th Circuit (ellipses and emphasis in original).
The city claimed its goal in enacting the ordinance was “combating the harmful secondary effects of that conduct on the surrounding community.”
The city said the ordinance was meant to support its “comprehensive plan” of developing an “international commercial corridor” in the area surrounding the clubs. One expert noted that adult businesses do not “consistently” co-exist with such corridors, the ruling states.
“The ultimate inquiry is whether the City’s rationale ‘was a reasonable one, and even if [the plaintiff] demonstrates that another conclusion was also reasonable, we cannot simply substitute our own judgment for the City’s,'” Story concluded, quoting from the same 11th Circuit opinion.
Story also pointed to the fact that Galardi neglected to challenge all of the city’s evidence – the necessary groundwork for the “extraordinary and drastic remedy” of a preliminary injunction.
Galardi challenged “many” of the studies cited by the city, but left 21 undisputed, according to the ruling. And Galardi challenged only three out of six affidavits filed by former club employees describing “criminal and inappropriate” behavior at the clubs, according to the ruling.