First Round Victory: Judge Clears Way for Food Truck Lawsuit

Institute for Justice · September 29, 2016

Arlington, Va.—Today, a Baltimore City Circuit Court judge denied the city’s motion to dismiss a constitutional challenge to a law that makes it illegal for mobile vendors to operate within 300 feet of any brick-and-mortar business that sells primarily the same product or service. This law has made it nearly impossible for the city’s mobile vendors to stay in business.

In May, the Institute for Justice, Joey Vanoni of Pizza di Joey and Nikki McGowan of Madame BBQ teamed up to challenge the law, arguing that the 300-foot ban exists solely to protect brick-and-mortar businesses from competition. Vendors caught violating the law—which was passed at the request of the retail-business lobby—face $500 in fines for each violation.

“Contrary to the city’s argument, Maryland courts take seriously the right to pursue one’s chosen profession free from arbitrary and irrational regulations,” said IJ Attorney Greg Reed, who argued the case. “We intend to get this anticompetitive law struck down not only for the benefit of the city’s food trucks, but for all entrepreneurs and the Baltimoreans eager to be their customers.”

Joey Vanoni, owner and operator of the Pizza di Joey food truck, said, “I am grateful for the court’s decision. I am now one step closer to fully realizing my dream of serving the people of Baltimore authentic New York-style pizza.”

“Customers, not city hall, should choose where they want to shop,” added IJ Attorney Robert Frommer, who also represents the food trucks. “We hope to resolve this case quickly so that Baltimoreans will have greater opportunity and choice.”