Arlington, Va.— Last Friday afternoon, a Fulton County Superior Court judge decided not to grant an injunction that would have protected the businesses of Larry Miller and Stanley Hambrick, two long-time businessmen who have each vended outside Turner Field for more than a decade.
With the assistance of the Institute for Justice (IJ), Miller and Hambrick are challenging the city of Atlanta’s decision to hand over all public-property vending to General Growth Properties—the first program of its kind in the country. Because this monopoly threatens the very survival of Miller and Hambrick’s businesses, they asked that the court keep the city from revoking their vending permits or physically removing them from their vending locations while the case proceeds. The court’s denial of that request threatens the very existence of Miller’s and Hambrick’s businesses.
“This fight is just beginning,” said IJ attorney Robert Frommer. “The bottom line is that Atlanta officials cannot hand over all vending in the city to a single multi-billion-dollar corporation. We are confident that the Georgia courts will strike down this unconstitutional monopoly.”
Miller, Hambrick and the Institute for Justice will continue to press their case and do everything possible to protect these businesses from this abuse of government power. They will now ask the court to consider the merits of their legal claims, which the court has yet to rule on.
Because General Growth Properties has the exclusive right to vend, it can call on the city to force out competitors at any time. When the company moved into the Woodruff Park area, for instance, Atlanta officials revoked the existing vendors’ permits and forced them to leave. Despite that evidence, the Court said, “Plaintiffs have not demonstrated, even should GGP move into the Turner Field vending area, that Plaintiffs would have their licenses revoked.”
The Court’s order leaves both Miller and Hambrick facing an uncertain future. General Growth Properties can move into the area surrounding Turner Field whenever it wants. But despite numerous inquiries, neither the city nor General Growth Properties will publicly state what the company’s plans are. This uncertainty is already harming Miller and Hambrick’s businesses.
“Winter is when I buy baseball memorabilia and apparel,” said Stanly Hambrick. “But due to all of the uncertainty about whether and when General Growth Properties will move into Turner Field, I have been holding off from making crucial business decisions. I want to purchase merchandise and hire my employees, but I just don’t know when the other shoe will drop.”
The lawsuit against Atlanta’s vending monopoly is part of the IJ’s National Street Vending Initiative. For more on the lawsuit and the nationwide report the Institute for Justice has released on street vending, titled Streets of Dreams, please visit www.ij.org/AtlantaVending. The Institute for Justice is the nation’s leading legal advocate for the rights of entrepreneurs.