Louisville, Ky.—Today, Judge David J. Hale of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Kentucky entered a consent decree that ends a months-long legal battle between Louisville’s innovative food truck businesses and Louisville Metro. The consent decree is enforceable through the federal court’s contempt powers and will ensure that Louisville’s food trucks are treated fairly.
The fight began last summer, when the Institute for Justice (IJ) filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of Troy King and Robert Martin, two Louisville food truck owners who were forced out of vending locations under a law that prohibited food trucks from operating within 150 feet of restaurants or other eating establishments that served similar food. Louisville Metro Council repealed the 150-foot ban on March 21 in response to IJ’s lawsuit.
This newly entered consent decree prohibits Louisville Metro from reinstituting the 150-foot ban on food trucks or implementing any similar “proximity restrictions” in the future. It also blocks the government from singling out food trucks for treatment different from other commercial vehicles and requires the removal of all variations of the infamous “No Food Trucks” signs across the city.
Louisville Metro must also post the consent decree on its website to ensure full transparency for Louisville’s hardworking taxpayers and business owners.
“This consent decree is the final chapter in the months-long fight to vindicate the economic liberty rights of Louisville’s food truck entrepreneurs,” said IJ attorney and lead counsel, Arif Panju. “With the consent decree entered, Louisville Metro can focus on encouraging the entrepreneurship of street vendors, not try to hurt them by playing favorites.”
The consent decree is a major victory not just for Troy and Robert, but for all of Louisville’s mobile vending community, which is now free to grow or fail because of customer choice, instead of government interference.
IJ attorneys based their lawsuit on the landmark 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling, Craigmiles v. Giles. In Craigmiles, the 6th Circuit—which includes Kentucky—ruled that it is illegitimate for the government to restrict fair economic competition in order to give special favors to a politically connected business. Louisville’s 150-foot ban only existed to give special protection to brick-and-mortar restaurants.
“Louisville did the right thing by agreeing to eliminate its unconstitutional ordinance and promising never to pass something similar. But that agreement occurred only after they were haled into federal court,” said IJ senior attorney Rob Frommer, who directs IJ’s National Street Vending Initiative. “Other cities and states don’t have to wait to do the right thing. The National Street Vending Initiative is ready to help government leaders write sensible rules that allow innovative businesses to flourish and add to their communities.”