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B. L. Brereton v. Taylorsville City Corporation | Complaint

30 May 2002 Published in Litigation Materials

B. L. Brereton v. Taylorsville City Corporation

JANELLE P. EURICK USB #8801
American Civil Liberties Union of Utah Foundation, Inc.
355 North 300 West, Suite 1
Salt Lake City, Utah 84103
Telephone: (801) 521-9862

JAMES L. HARRIS, Jr. USB # 8204
BRIAN M. BARNARD USB # 0215
Utah Legal Clinic
214 East Fifth South Street
Salt Lake City, Utah 84111-3204
Telephone: (801) 328-9531

Attorneys for Plaintiff

IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF UTAH
CENTRAL DIVISION

COMPLAINT

Case No. 2:02-CV-

B. L. BRERETON, Plaintiff,

vs.

TAYLORSVILLE CITY CORPORATION, a municipal corporation; JANICE AUGER, Mayor of Taylorsville City; AARON KENNARD, Sheriff of Salt Lake County; and JOHN BREMS, City Attorney, Defendants.

Plaintiff, B.L. Brereton, by and through counsel, hereby complains as follows:

NATURE OF ACTION

1. This civil action seeks to redress and to prevent violation of rights protected by the Constitutions of the United States and the State of Utah. Plaintiff seeks declaratory relief as to the unconstitutionality of Taylorsville City Code §11.20.140 and § 11.20.150 (the“Ordinances”). The Ordinances are facially unconstitutional because they impermissibly infringe on plaintiff’s rights under the First Amendment of the United States Constitution and Article I, Section 15 of the Utah Constitution by prohibiting the plaintiff from engaging in otherwise lawful and protected expression. Plaintiff seeks injunctive relief prohibiting defendants from enforcing the Ordinance. Plaintiff seeks nominal damages. Plaintiff also seeks attorney fees pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983 and 1988.

JURISDICTION AND VENUE

2. This Court has jurisdiction over plaintiff’s federal claims pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§1331 and 1343(3), since they allege the deprivation of rights created under the United States Constitution. The doctrine of pendent jurisdiction gives the Court jurisdiction over the plaintiff’s claim under the Utah Constitution.

3. Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1391, venue properly lies in this district and division, where the events underlying the plaintiff’s claims took place.

PARTIES

4. B. L. Brereton is an adult citizen and resident of Salt Lake County, Utah. Brereton is the owner of a motor vehicle. Brereton desires to sell that vehicle. Brereton has determined that an effective and inexpensive manner in which to sell the vehicle is by placing a “For Sale” sign in the vehicle window with pertinent legal and truthful information. Brereton is aware of the existence and terms of the challenged Ordinances and of a recent incident where defendants enforced the Ordinance against a private individual whose car was parked in Taylorsville City with a “For Sale” sign in the window. Brereton wishes to park and/or operate the vehicle on public streets within Taylorsville City while displaying a “For Sale” sign in the window of the vehicle. Due to the restrictions imposed by the Ordinances, however, Brereton fears prosecution for advertising the vehicle for sale in this manner. Brereton has refrained from driving and parking in Taylorsville City with a “For Sale” sign in the vehicle window.

5. Defendant Taylorsville City Corporation is a municipal corporation organized and existing under the laws of the State of Utah. The City is a person within the meaning of 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and was acting under color of state law at all times relevant to this complaint.

6. Defendant Janice Auger is Mayor of Taylorsville City. She is sued in her official capacity. The Mayor’s powers and duties include supervising the administration and enforcement of all laws and ordinances of the City.

7. Defendant John N. Brems is the City Prosecutor of Taylorsville City. His powers and duties include prosecuting persons charged with violations of ordinances of the City including the Ordinance.

8. Defendant Aaron Kennard is Sheriff of Salt Lake County. He is sued in his official capacity. The Sheriff’s powers and duties include supervising and administering the sheriff’s department, which is responsible for enforcing all ordinances of the City.

FACTUAL BACKGROUND

9. The Ordinance (Taylorsville City Code §11.20.140) provides in pertinent part: “No person shall park or operate a vehicle upon any roadway for the principal purpose of ... [d]isplaying such vehicle for sale ...[or] [d]isplaying advertising.”

10. The Ordinance (Taylorsville City Code §11.20.150) provides in pertinent part: “It shall be unlawful for the owner of a motor vehicle . . . to park it or allow it to be parked on a vacant lot or parking lot owned by another person for the purpose of displaying it for sale, unless the owner or lessee of the property on which it is parked has a city business license to engage in the business of selling motor vehicles . . . at that location.”

11. On information and belief, Taylorsville City does not prohibit the display of all advertisements or messages on all vehicles parked or operated on the public streets or private parking lots within Taylorsville City. To the contrary and as an example, Taylorsville City allows public buses to display advertising. It also allows private businesses to display advertising on vehicles. The City allows vehicles on its streets with bumper stickers.

12. On information and belief, Taylorsville City does not prohibit the display of all advertisements or messages visible to those operating motor vehicles on public streets within Taylorsville City. To the contrary, Taylorsville City allows signs, billboards and other displays on fixed locations visible to motorists.

13. On information and belief, defendants do not have any written ordinances, policies, rules or regulations for determining when a vehicle is being operated for the “principal purpose” of displaying advertising, or “for the purpose of displaying it for sale.”. As a result, defendants have the power to enforce the Ordinances arbitrarily and capriciously.

FIRST CAUSE OF ACTION
(Declaratory and Injunctive Relief to Enforce United States Constitution)

14. Plaintiff incorporates herein by this reference the foregoing paragraphs as if set forth fully herein.

15. The Ordinances are vague and unclear such as to chill the exercise of free expression as protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.

16. The Ordinances prohibit legal and truthful expressive conduct based upon the content of the expression.

17. The Ordinances are substantially overboard in that they prohibit legal conduct protected by the United States Constitution, including commercial speech on public streets.

18. No compelling state interest justifies the restriction of plaintiff’s right to expressive activity, and the Ordinances unconstitutionally chill and/or silence otherwise lawful and protected speech without justification either as a valid time, place, and manner restriction or as a regulation that directly advances a substantial governmental interest without being more extensive than necessary to serve that interest.

19. Plaintiff is entitled to declaratory relief that the Ordinances interfere with free expression as protected by the United States Constitution.

20. Plaintiff is entitled to injunctive relief that defendants not enforce the Ordinances because they are in violation of the Free Expression Clause of the United States Constitution.

SECOND CAUSE OF ACTION
(Declaratory and Injunctive Relief to Enforce Utah Constitution)

21. Plaintiff incorporates herein by this reference all paragraphs above as if set forth fully herein.

22. The Ordinances are vague and unclear such as to chill the exercise of free expression as protected by Article I Section 15 of the Utah Constitution.

23. The Ordinances prohibit legal and truthful expressive conduct based upon the content of the expression.

24. The Ordinances are substantially over broad in that they prohibit legal conduct protected by the Utah Constitution, including commercial speech on public streets.

25. No compelling state interest justifies the restriction of plaintiff’s right to expressive activity, and the Ordinances unconstitutionally chill and/or silence otherwise lawful and protected speech without justification either as a valid time, place, and manner restriction or as a regulation that directly advances a substantial governmental interest without being more extensive than necessary to serve that interest.

26. Plaintiff is entitled to declaratory relief that the ordinances interfere with free expression as protected by the Utah Constitution.

27. Plaintiff is entitled to injunctive relief that defendants not enforce the Ordinances because they are in violation of the Article I Section 15 of the Utah Constitution.

THIRD CAUSE OF ACTION
(Damages: United States Constitution)

28. Plaintiff incorporates herein by this reference the foregoing paragraphs as if set forth fully herein.

29. Brereton has operated Brereton’s vehicle on various streets and roadways in Salt Lake County with a “For Sale” sign in the window.

30. When Brereton has driven through Taylorsville City, Brereton has removed the “For Sale” sign from the vehicle. When Brereton has parked in the parking lot of commercial establishments or shopping centers in Taylorsville City, Brereton has removed the “For Sale” sign from the vehicle.

31. Upon leaving Taylorsville City, Brereton has replaced the “For Sale” sign in the vehicle window.

32. Brereton’s conduct as set forth above was caused by fear that the defendants would enforce the Ordinances and cite Brereton for displaying the “For Sale” sign.

33. Brereton has suffered damages as a result of the existence of the Ordinances and fear of enforcement by defendants.

34. Brereton is entitled to nominal damages in the sum of one dollar ($1.00) for the harm as set forth above based upon the United States Constitution.

RELIEF

WHEREFORE, Plaintiff demands relief as follows:

a. For declaratory judgment that Taylorsville City Code §11.20.140 and §11.20.150, violate the First Amendment of the United States Constitution;

b. For declaratory judgement that Taylorsville City Code §11.20.140 and §11.20.150, violate Article I, Section 15 of the Utah Constitution;

c. For a preliminary and permanent injunction enjoining defendants from enforcing Taylorsville City Code §11.20.140 and §11.20.150;

d. For nominal damages ($1.00) as against Taylorsville City for the violation of plaintiff’s rights under the United States Constitution occasioned by the Ordinances;

e. For plaintiff’s reasonable attorneys’ fees and court costs in pursuing this action; and

f. For such other and further relief as the Court deems just and proper.

DATED this 31st day of MAY, 2002.

AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION OF UTAH, INC.

UTAH LEGAL CLINIC

Attorneys for Plaintiff

EXHIBITS

Taylorsville City Ordinance § 11.20.140

Taylorsville City Ordinance § 11.20.150