Tokyo Valentino Wins Appeal
On Friday, A federal court reversed a lower court ruling that tried to bar the adult superstore from operating based on a zoning dispute and the city’s dated adult entertainment ordinance. This means that Tokyo Valentino stays open for now and that the City of Atlanta’s adult entertainment ordinance may even be challenged as unconstitutional.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit not only reversed the ruling, but also revived a possible constitutional challenge against the city of Atlanta’s adult entertainment ordinance that has been used in part to clean up the valuable 1.5 miles of extremely valuable real estate on Cheshire Bridge, and in the year-long effort to shut down the adult superstore, Tokyo Valentino.
Although the ruling may not conclude the fight between Tokyo Valentino and the city, it comes as a welcome break in what is a decade-long dispute over zoning, building codes, and violation of city ordinances since its opening in 1998.
The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia ruled in January 2018 that Tokyo Valentino had violated city ordinances since its opening in 1998. It also issued an injunction to prohibit the store from operating an adult movie theater, bookstore, and event space which includes video booths at the store’s basement level that were claimed to out of line with inspection codes.
The opinion that was issued Friday reverses the injunction against the business issued last year, that ruled that Tokyo Valentino should have challenged the constitutionality of the law in the earlier lawsuits and had therefore lost the chance to make claims against the city ordinance now. The appellate panel said the earlier lawsuits did not deal with the constitutionality of the law, and that the store had no way of knowing that it would later be cited for code violations the city had ignored for decades.
For Michael Morrison, founder and CEO of Tokyo Valentino, the ruling is a welcome break which in turn opens up for larger perspectives in Atlanta. Ideally and realistically, Morrison hopes that the city of Atlanta and the city attorney will engage in negotiating a settlement to pay back the legal fees that have accumulated to approximately $250,000 over the years. Furthermore, it is Morrison’s hope that with this ruling, the city of Atlanta will finally validate Tokyo Valentino’s rightful operation as a correctly zoned and legally licensed adult entertainment establishment.
If this Tokyo Valentino is thus redeemed and validated, Michael Morrison will also no longer pursue a lawsuit that challenges the adult entertainment ordinance, and he will not seek damages either.
Morrison and his legal team are now waiting for the case to go back to the district court, where it will go to summary judgment or potentially trial.
But for now, Tokyo Valentino stays open.