A partial victory was earned by the village in an ongoing lawsuit filed by a prospective strip club owner, though a pair of requests to have the case tossed altogether were rejected.
Ken DeGori is suing Forest Park for denying him a business license last year that would have allowed him to open a topless bar on Industrial Drive. DeGori had also named Mayor Anthony Calderone as a defendant, but the mayor was scratched from the case earlier this month after arguing that any actions he took with respect to DeGori’s request for a business license were on behalf of the village.
Before the judge could rule on Calderone’s motion, attorneys for the plaintiff agreed to withdraw their complaints against him.
However, that same motion also sought-unsuccessfully-to redirect DeGori’s claims against the municipality toward the state. Because the village leaned on an Illinois law in denying the application for a business license, DeGori’s gripe is with the state and not the municipality, according to arguments filed by the village.
That request was denied, as was a follow up motion asking Judge Elaine Bucklo to reconsider her decision.
“… (I)t is the state law banning adult uses in certain proscribed areas, and not the village’s practice of following such law, which is the cause of any alleged constitutional deprivations,” attorneys for Forest Park said in their second request filed May 20. “Therefore, the village is not a proper party to this lawsuit and must be dismissed.”
An attempt to reach a settlement in the dispute was unsuccessful, according to recent court filings, and a trial is schedule for August 2009.
DeGori filed suit in February after receiving a Dec. 5 letter from the village attorney rejecting his application for a business license. In the opening paragraph of that letter Forest Park pointed to a state statute that prohibits adult entertainment venues from setting up shop within one mile of schools, daycare facilities, public parks, cemeteries, churches and other protected sites. The proposed location, 7865 Industrial Drive, is situated within a mile from at least a cemetery and a forest preserve, according to the village.
The third paragraph of that letter, however, mentions a municipal zoning ordinance that prohibits sexually explicit businesses from opening at the proposed address. That ordinance was approved on Nov. 26. DeGori applied for a business license almost three weeks earlier on Nov. 7.
In denying the village’s original motion to have the case thrown out, Bucklo said in her order that the grievance properly rests with whoever carried out the act.
“Whether the source of the village’s action is state or some other law, it is, as so alleged, the actor,” Bucklo said in her brief.
An attorney for the village did not respond to requests for comment on the judge’s decision.
When DeGori applied with the village for a license to open a topless bar, he was listed as a co-applicant with the property’s owner, Chris Wessels. In the lawsuit, however, DeGori is the sole plaintiff.