Florida Appellate Court Refuses to Protect Hialeah Vendors’ Right to Earn a Living

Institute for Justice · March 9, 2016

Hialeah, Fla.— Today, Florida’s Third District Court of Appeal ruled against the right to earn a living when it upheld a Hialeah law that makes it impossible for mobile vendors to operate.

The ruling upheld restrictions that ban vendors from doing two things essential to building a successful business: displaying their merchandise and vending from one location.  A group of vendors joined with the Institute for Justice (IJ) to challenge the law in 2011.

“Today’s ruling is a threat to the economic liberty of all Floridians and we will seek further appellate review,” said IJ Attorney Rob Peccola, who argued the case before the appellate court. “The Florida Supreme Court has ruled for decades—and as recently as two years ago—that facts matter and this appellate court ruled they do not.”

The three-judge panel concluded that under the test, plaintiffs are not allowed to “disprove[]” the effects of a law “by evidence admitted in a court of law.” The ruling flies in the face of longstanding Florida precedent allowing challengers to disprove the asserted rationales for laws.

The decision in the case leaves the vending community vulnerable. “I am not just fighting for mobile vendors’ rights. This is about the right of every Floridian to earn an honest living,” said IJ client Silvio Membreno. “We operate in private lots with the owner’s permission and do not block traffic or pedestrians.”

“All we want is to operate our vending businesses safely and the law will not let us do that,” continued Silvio. “Vendors are a part of the business community like anyone else  and the Florida Association of Vendors helps hardworking people who want to earn an honest living.”