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Sunday, April 01, 2012

Ind. Decisions - "Judge denies injunction; Evansville smoking ban to take effect Sunday"

That story by Arek Sarkissian II appeared in yesterday's Evansville Courier & Press. Some quotes:

EVANSVILLE — The rejection of two temporary injunctions against a city smoking ban set to start Sunday left bar and club owners wondering if they should continue fighting, learn to cope or close.

But for officials at the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post No. 1114, one item of recourse was clear.

“Well, the only thing we can do now is make sure the City Council doesn’t get reelected,” said Randy Muston, quartermaster for the West Side VFW post. “Other than that, we aren’t sure what we’re going to do.”

On Friday afternoon, Judge Robert Pigman denied two injunctions filed by 29 bars and eight private clubs to stop a city smoking ban that takes effect 12 a.m. Sunday.

Vanderburgh County Health Department Director David Gries said his agency shares enforcement of the smoking ban with local law enforcement, but reporting violations is up to the public.

“We’re leaving it in the hands of the clubs and tavern owners to follow the law,” Gries said. “What we’ll rely on is the general public making any calls or complaints, and we’ll follow up on those.”

Today this follow-up story that begins:
Plaintiffs of two failed temporary injunctions against a city smoking ban said on Saturday they plan to meet this week to determine whether they will appeal.

Attorney Les Shively, who filed a lawsuit on behalf of a group of eight private clubs, said he will meet with his clients Monday and reveal their official decision Wednesday in a meeting with Judge Robert Pigman in Vanderburgh County Circuit Court.

Also on Saturday, Joe DeVasier, who owns the Corner Pocket, said he plans to meet on Monday with fellow bar owners to determine the next step.

More quotes:
On Friday afternoon, Pigman ruled against two temporary injunctions accompanying the lawsuits. Berger and Shively argued in court Wednesday that their clients are similar to Casino Aztar, which City Council exempted from the ban. The attorneys said the bars, clubs and Aztar all pay taxes and offer similar entertainment.

Pigman wrote in his ruling that Aztar was liable for different taxes that have a more direct effect on the city. He also ruled Aztar provides a different experience for its customers.

Berger and Shively filed lawsuits on March 12 after City Council voted in the smoking ban on Feb. 13. The smoking ban is a more strict version of one passed last month by the General Assembly, which exempted casinos, bars and private clubs. A clause in the state law allows the city's ban to be enforced because it is more restrictive. Evansville was the first major city in the state to force its bars and private clubs to go smoke free.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on April 1, 2012 11:08 AM
Posted to Ind. Trial Ct. Decisions