MUNICIPAL LAW - District Court grants municipality's motion for summary judgment as to selective enforcement equal protection claim brought by sports bar:

2016-03-11 | Matthew J. O'Keefe
mjokeefe@jacksonokeefe.com

Category: Municipal Law

Matthew J. O'Keefe

The plaintiff sports bar initially obtained approval from the fire marshal for an occupancy level of 1,200 persons.  Thereafter, there were numerous complaints to the police about incidents at the bar and the police began to place a van and K-9 unit near the front entrance.  The fire marshal subsequently reduced the occupancy level to 540.  The zoning enforcement officer subsequently issued a cease-and-desist order to bar live entertainment with a dance floor.  The cease-and-desist order was upheld on the grounds that the occupancy level exceeded the number of parking spaces available, 179.  The Superior Court then vacated the Zoning Board's decision to uphold the cease-and-desist order.  Nonetheless, the bar's attendance dwindled and the bar went out of business.  In a civil rights claim against the municipal defendants, it was alleged that the bar was driven out of business by unfair regulation.  The bar asserted a class of one equal protection claim.  The District Court grants summary judgment to the municipal defendants, finding that the plaintiff had failed to establish that there were similarly situated individuals or businesses treated more favorably, as required to prevail on such a claim.  The court also noted that since the bar never complied with the cease-and-desist order, the court could not conclude that the entry of that order occasioned a deprivation of any property right for the purpose of the federal due process clause.  Dean v. Town of Hamden, February 18, 2016

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