A group of investors – most of whom have remained concealed by what judges called an “obscure trail of contracts, trusts, and illusory commitments” – seeking to open a strip club in Broadview have suffered another setback as they try to force the suburban community to grant them the permit they need to open the establishment.
On June 29, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a Chicago federal judge’s decision to dismiss the request for an injunction brought against the village of Broadview more than a decade ago by the group known as Chicago Joe’s Tea Room LLC, saying an Illinois state law effectively bars the group from opening their strip club on their proposed site, or just about anywhere else in Broadview.
“In the end, we agree with the district court that Chicago Joe’s claims for injunctive relief are moot because an applicable Illinois statute now prohibits Chicago Joe’s from opening anywhere in Broadview,” the Seventh Circuit judges wrote. “Chicago Joe’s has not challenged that statute, and it would effectively prohibit a court from granting effective relief to Chicago Joe’s even if Chicago Joe’s prevailed on its federal constitutional challenges to the Broadview ordinances.”
The opinion was authored by Seventh Circuit Judge David F. Hamilton, with judges Daniel A. Manion and Michael S. Kanne concurring.
K. Austin Zimmer Del Galdo Law
The case had landed before the Seventh Circuit more than two years ago, following the decision by U.S. District Judge John Z. Lee to grant partial summary judgment to the village of Broadview in the long-running legal dispute over the adult establishment, proposed to be opened in the near west Chicago suburb.
According to court documents, the Chicago Joe’s group presented the village with plans more than 11 years ago to open the club, planned to include “semi-nude” dancing, at a site in the village. The village, however, balked, denying the application by citing a village ordinance forbidding such adult entertainment establishments from also selling liquor.
The village also simultaneously revised their zoning ordinance in a move another federal judge determined was targeted specifically at the Chicago Joe’s group.
Published reports indicate the Chicago Joe’s group is publicly headed by a businessman identified as David Donahue, who also played a role in the development of the Polekatz strip club in suburban Bridgeview. While judges noted the group likely includes a number of other individuals, the Seventh Circuit judges said the identities of the other investors and partners remains hidden, obscured by a host of corporate aliases and a “tangled record of transactions that seem designed to conceal the real parties in interest and their substantive deals.”
As with Polekatz in Bridgeview, Donahue’s Chicago Joe’s group sued Broadview, asserting the denial violated their constitutional rights.
While Bridgeview settled, allowing Polekatz to open, Broadview has continued to fight the lawsuit in court for more than a decade. And in recent years, Broadview has scored wins, thanks largely to a state law enacted in 2007, forbidding strip clubs from opening within one mile of any “school, day care center, cemetery, public park, forest preserve, public housing, or place of religious worship” in suburban Cook County.
Judge Lee cited that law in denying as moot Chicago Joe’s request for an injunction forcing Broadview to allow Chicago Joe’s to open its club.
On appeal, the Seventh Circuit judges said they believed, despite the nebulous character of the Chicago Joe’s group, the group does have standing to sue, because the village’s denial of the special use permit for the strip club caused a deal between the group and the landowner, identified as Pervis Clayton, to fall apart, as the deal was based on the presumption the strip club group could obtain village permission to build.
However, the appellate judges said Judge Lee was not mistaken to rely on the state law to deny Chicago Joe’s their desired injunction.
“By its terms, the state statute forecloses any attempt to operate a strip club on Conway’s property, and apparently anywhere else in Broadview,” the appellate judges said.
In a footnote, the appellate judges noted Chicago Joe’s appears to have made a “strategic decision not to challenge the statute,” which they said, helped to doom their injunction request. However, in a brief, Chicago Joe’s said it believes it “will have the opportunity to challenge the state statute once it has overcome the hurdle of the Village’s wrongful denial of its special use permit.”
Chicago Joe’s is represented in the action by attorneys Michael A. Ficaro, Dean J. Polales Cornell A. Wilson and Timothy E. Horton, of the firm of Nixon Peabody LLP, of Chicago; Michael Maksimovich, of Lyons; Michael J. Neville, of Fox Rothschild LLP, of Chicago; and Daniel F. Hanlon, of Marquardt, Kallas & Belmonte P.C., of Wheaton.
Broadview and various individual associated defendants are represented by attorneys K. Austin Zimmer, Cynthia S. Grandfield, Veronica Bonilla-Lopez and Eric T Stach, of the Del Galdo Law Group LLC, of Berwyn; Philip M. Fornaro and Mark A. Scarlato, of Fornaro Law, of LaGrange; and Charles R. Topping, of the Law Offices of Philip M. Fornaro & Associates Ltd., of Brookfield.