The Warshawsky Law Firm represents William Molina, a young immigrant entrepreneur, who opened a Latin-themed restaurant/bar in downtown Poughkeepsie in 2010, but was forced out of business in 2011 by city officials who objected to his holding "hip hop" parties that attracted a predominantly black clientele. Last year, we filed a federal civil rights lawsuit on behalf of Mr. Molina and his company in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. The lawsuit names the City of Poughkeepsie and certain city officials as defendants. A copy of the complaint is here. The presiding judge on the case is District Judge Cathy Seibel.
Shortly after the complaint was filed, the defendants filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that the complaint failed to state a plausible claim upon which relief can be granted. We opposed the motion, arguing that the defendants had violated our clients' rights to due process of law and equal protection of the law. The parties submitted lengthy briefing to the court.
On Monday, March 4, 2013, Judge Seibel issued her ruling from the bench (no written decision currently is available). She granted the defendants' motion with respect to the due process claim, which involves allegations that the city building department improperly delayed approving Mr. Molina's public assembly license. But she denied the motion with respect to the equal protection claim, which involves allegations that the city police engaged in an unjustified campaign of harassment against Mr. Molina's restaurant -- ultimately forcing him out of business -- because he started holding "hip hop" parties that attracted a predominantly black clientele.
The equal protection claim goes to the heart of the case: The City of Poughkeepsie intentionally destroyed Mr. Molina's business because city leaders, including the corporation counsel, did not like the kind of customers he was serving.
Judge Seibel's decision to deny the defendants' motion on the equal protection claim is a tremendous victory for our client!
The case now proceeds to discovery and Mr. Molina will have an opportunity to prove his claims in court. We are confident that we will prevail!
If you or someone you know has been discriminated against by government officials, please contact The Warshawsky Law Firm today.