Lawuit filed by adult store business owner

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By Susan Sharp

Claiming his constitutional rights are being violated, Steve Hale, president of Adult World, LLC, has sued the town of Caryville.

Last week, a 45 page complaint filed on Hale’s behalf by attorney Michael Hatmaker alleges Caryville and its officials are trampling Hale’s rights with its municipal code.

The case was set to be heard Tuesday morning in chancery court. However, late Monday afternoon, Robert Watson, who is representing the town, filed a notice to have the case moved to federal court.

Citing the First Amendment of the United States’ Constitution, the complaint says a large portion of items sold at Adult World are protected under that provision.

Hatmaker also says, on Hale’s behalf, that the attempt to add nude dancing to the items offered at Adult World is further protected by the First Amendment.

Nude dancing is referred to as “constitutionally protected speech” in Hale’s complaint.

As the filing continues, it is claimed that Adult World was in business before the town of Caryville enacted its municipal code that regulates adult orientated businesses.

Adult World opened its doors in 2002; the ordinance pertaining to this type of business was enacted in 2005, the court record said.

For four years, Adult World operated and the town “did not attempt enforcement” of the ordinance regulating this type of business, the suit claims.

However, in April, a Caryville Police officer served notice on the business that it and its employees had to comply with the licensing and regulation provisions or shut its doors.

Hale is also alleging the language in the ordinance is vague; specifically when it refers to the operations of an adult cabaret.

And in this case, the dancing proposed at Adult World could fall into the category of adult cabaret.

The complaint asks the court not subject Adult World to the 2005 ordinance or its 2007 amended version. Instead the establishment should be allowed to provide “adult, sexually orientated” items and entertainment including nude dancing.

Hale is also arguing the provisions of the ordinance are vague and in places “overly intrusive” making it unconstitutional in nature.

 A section of the code includes the business license application process.

In the application various types of personal information are requested such as such a physical description of the applicant, proof of age, five years of employment history and home addresses for the last three years. However, the town does not guarantee that once the information is provided, it will remain confidential. This is in opposition to the Fourteenth Amendment, the right to privacy, the lawsuit claims.

Hatmaker is also arguing, on Hale’s behalf, that the review process for the license is ambiguous and leaves too much discretion to the town officials and not enough for the judicial review process.

In the complaint, the court is asked to stop the town of Caryville from enforcing the ordinances enacted after Adult World opened. If allowed to impose those regulations, it would prevent Hale’s establishment from offering its merchandise and the nude dancing, according to the complaint.

A date has not yet been set to hear the complaint.

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