Daily Record Legal Affairs Writer//August 14, 2017
//Daily Record Legal Affairs Writer
//August 14, 2017
A lawsuit filed by two food truck owners challenging the constitutionality of Baltimore’s proximity ban for mobile vendors is headed for trial after a judge denied cross-motions for summary judgment Friday.
Baltimore City Circuit Judge Yolanda A. Tanner ruled at least one of the food truck plaintiffs demonstrated sufficient facts to show they have faced a “credible threat of prosecution” due to the rule, which prevents them from operating within 300 feet of a restaurant selling the same cuisine.
Tanner also ruled the city “has raised a colorable argument that the statute is rationally-related to a legitimate government interest,” effectively rejecting the plaintiffs’ argument that the rule is “per-se illegitimate” because the city has admitted its intended purpose was to limit competition for brick-and-mortar restaurants.
The parties both argued at a hearing last month that there were no facts in dispute and the law was on their side.
The plaintiffs, operators of Pizza di Joey and Madame BBQ, claim the rule discourages competition and effectively blocks them from operating in large areas of the city. They called the rule “unconstitutional economic protectionism” in their filings.
The city countered that it can confer an economic benefit as long as it wasn’t irrational and the rule is a “minimal barrier” for food truck owners. The city also argued the plaintiffs have not shown they have been harmed because they haven’t been cited for a violation or provided evidence they changed their behavior to avoid a violation.
A trial in the case is scheduled for September.
The case is Pizza di Joey LLC et al. v. Mayor and City Council of Baltimore, 24C16002852.s