Lawsuit filed against city of Evansville in regards to smoking b - 14 News, WFIE, Evansville, Henderson, Owensboro

Lawsuit filed against city of Evansville in regards to smoking ban

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City Council members say the ban was approved for public health. City Council members say the ban was approved for public health.

A federal lawsuit is filed on behalf of local tavern owners and private clubs against the city of Evansville, claiming the city's smoking ban is unconstitutional.

Attorney Les Shively says he filed this lawsuit under the Equal Protection Clause, because Casino Aztar is exempt from the city's smoking ban.

Friday night, the bars and clubs who are not exempt are also seeking damages for the revenue they say they've lost since the smoking ban took effect.

"We're moving forward to try to save these businesses, keep these clubs, their doors open," Shively said.

After previous attempts failed to extinguish Evansville's smoking ban, a group of local taverns and private clubs are now asking a federal court to snuff out the city's ban once and for all.

"Federal judge could find the ordinance as it exists right now is unconstitutional and then order damages be paid to the various plaintiffs for what they've had to endure," said Shively. 

Those behind the lawsuit  say they've been hit hard by the ban since it took effect April 1st, losing thousands of dollars in revenue.

"You're looking at about a $100-$150 thousand dollar loss annually for us and we can't afford that," said Chief of Staff at the VFW Post 1114 Jerry Blake.

City Council members say the ban was approved for public health.

Supporters of the ban say, like the others before it, this suit will go up in smoke.

"There's been countless numbers of lawsuits, both on the state and federal level very similar to this, and they've always been upheld in court," said Casey Williams with Smoke Free Communities. 

Indiana's new state smoking ban doesn't include taverns and private clubs.

Shively says the city may have jumped the gun.

"If the city of Evansville had followed the state law, the bars and taverns could have conducted their business as usual as well as the private clubs, particularly the one were in here today, post 1114,"

As policy, the city will not comment on pending litigation, but City Attorney Ted Ziemer tells 14 News "we represented the city in an earlier injunction and we won, and we will represent the city against this lawsuit in any action that's brought."

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