Right in the kisser – City loses its prolonged court case; damages top $750,000

August 14, 2009
By

By Seth Daniel

seth@reverejournal.com

The city has lost its longstanding court case over legal fees in what began 16 years ago as a Constitutional free speech case with the Moon-Lite Reader adult bookstore.

Suffolk Superior Court Judge Thomas Connolly ruled favorably for Moon-Lite on July 31, allowing them to claim $759,140 in legal fees, costs and interest from the city. The case dates back to 1993.

Furthermore, he indicated that post-judgment interest would accrue at a rate of $155 per day, retroactive to February 9. That means every day the city remains undecided on the case, it costs $155. Already, the city has racked up another $28,675 in additional interest since February.

Judge Connolly noted that the city was facing tough economic times, but that the city’s public officials – both past and present – needed to pay now for their decisions.

“T & D [Moon-Lite Reader owners] is entitled to recover a total of $759,139.75 in costs, fees and post-judgment interest,” read the ruling. “This court notes that this is a large sum to require the City of Revere to pay, especially under the current economic circumstances. However, this amount is directly attributable to the conduct of Revere’s officials, by their knowing and deliberate violation of T & D’s well-established rights under United States and Massachusetts law.”

Mayor Tom Ambrosino said it wasn’t a surprising verdict, but he thought the fees were excessive. He indicated the city wasn’t sure if it would appeal the case again.

“I think we’re deliberating whether it makes sense to appeal,” he said. “I believe the award is excessive and I think our counsel does, too…At some point, you have to throw up the white flag. Whether this is the time to do that, I don’t know yet. We’ll know in the next 30 days.”

He said that he felt a more reasonable number would be $400,000 to $500,000.

“I’ve always thought the fees were excessive based on what we paid our attorney, who is a well regarded attorney in Boston,” he said. “Altogether, the award doesn’t equal the numbers demanded from them when I took office. I can’t say it was a waste of time vigorously defending this.”

Already, earlier this year, the city paid nearly $200,000 to settle another part of the case resulting from the appeals process.

The Moon-Lite case began in 1993 when the adult bookstore applied for a permit to open at Bell Circle. It was proven that officials tried to change the zoning after the plan was presented, allowing Moon-Lite the opportunity to open legally only at one address in the city. Moon-Lite quickly sued, getting an injunction allowing them to open, and challenging the city on the basis of violating the U.S. Constitution.

The Constitutional free speech case lost out after numerous appeals by the city, nearly too many to count. After that was decided, the issue of attorney fees reared its ugly head and lingered for years, with the city holding that the fees demanded were in excess of what was reasonable.

Two years ago, the city tried to have the case heard by the U.S. Supreme Court, but that court refused.

About the same time, the bookstore moved to Washington Avenue in Linden Square. Earlier this year, the bookstore closed down, leaving only the court case as evidence of its existence in Revere.

  • paul farrell

    i think its time to settle, that 155. per day isn’t going away. the city had many oppertunaties to make it right,,even thou i don’t agree

  • paul farrell

    i think its time to settle, that 155. per day isn’t going away. the city had many oppertunaties to make it right,,even thou i don’t agree

  • http://www.georgerotondo.org/ George Rotondo

    Dear Editor

    It is true, the city did lose its longstanding court case over a fool-hardy attempt to limit someone’s right to free speech because of a City Councilors’ personal vendetta of sorts 16 years ago. In which several politicians and city officials tried to shut the Moon Lite video store down.
    As a result Moon-Lite video store took the city to court and successfully sued the city of Revere for infringing on their Constitutional right to free speech under the guise of zoning.

    This is what happens when you have politicians placing their personal and friend interest above that of the city, and the taxpayer are now facing another financial calamity of bankrupting proportions.

    Next year the city is anticipating 5 million dollars cut in Municipal aid from the State, translating into more cuts in personnel and less services. Likewise we face another possible lawsuit.

    After speaking with several people within and outside of government it appear the City of Revere is yet to repeat history again. That the is the history of infringing on someone’s Constitutional right to free speech because of political and personal reasons.

    As some of you may know the majority of the city council legislated when and what size political sign someone can place on their lawn to support their favorite politician. If you viloate this measure in anyway you will be subject to a fine..

    Recently, several candidates have placed their signs in violation of the Council ordinance which preclude people from placing Political signs before a certain amount of days before an election and it also dictates size etc.

    The ordinance does not allow any political advertisement or political sign to be placed or allowed affixed to any public or private building, land, fence, utility pole or tree within the city. And then there is a provision regarding the size of the sign and when you can put the sign out before an election.

    As some would say it seems reasonable at first, but to others it is not and in fact it is hypocritical. You may be wondering why it is hypocritical? The fact is the city permits all current incumbents the right to place their political signs on flags, banners at city parks and trash receptacles throughout the city.

    Yet it appears if you’re a challenger running for office like Richard Penta you or your supporters are subject to fines by the city if you violate the city ordinance. While on the other hand incumbents office holder are allowed to place political advertisement on banners at Mc Makin field or on trash receptacles on Broadway without any penalty.

    This is how you end up with another law suit against the city on Constitutional grounds because some people don’t like competition and frankly at a cost of $750,000 dollar it is not something the taxpayers of Revere should have to pay for again.

    Therefore I will be asking that the City Council remove the city’s political sign ordinance as a matter of fairness to all candidates and most importantly to the taxpayers of Revere.

    Surely we do not want to repeat history again. Especially at a possible cost of $750,000

  • http://www.georgerotondo.org George Rotondo

    Dear Editor

    It is true, the city did lose its longstanding court case over a fool-hardy attempt to limit someone’s right to free speech because of a City Councilors’ personal vendetta of sorts 16 years ago. In which several politicians and city officials tried to shut the Moon Lite video store down.
    As a result Moon-Lite video store took the city to court and successfully sued the city of Revere for infringing on their Constitutional right to free speech under the guise of zoning.

    This is what happens when you have politicians placing their personal and friend interest above that of the city, and the taxpayer are now facing another financial calamity of bankrupting proportions.

    Next year the city is anticipating 5 million dollars cut in Municipal aid from the State, translating into more cuts in personnel and less services. Likewise we face another possible lawsuit.

    After speaking with several people within and outside of government it appear the City of Revere is yet to repeat history again. That the is the history of infringing on someone’s Constitutional right to free speech because of political and personal reasons.

    As some of you may know the majority of the city council legislated when and what size political sign someone can place on their lawn to support their favorite politician. If you viloate this measure in anyway you will be subject to a fine..

    Recently, several candidates have placed their signs in violation of the Council ordinance which preclude people from placing Political signs before a certain amount of days before an election and it also dictates size etc.

    The ordinance does not allow any political advertisement or political sign to be placed or allowed affixed to any public or private building, land, fence, utility pole or tree within the city. And then there is a provision regarding the size of the sign and when you can put the sign out before an election.

    As some would say it seems reasonable at first, but to others it is not and in fact it is hypocritical. You may be wondering why it is hypocritical? The fact is the city permits all current incumbents the right to place their political signs on flags, banners at city parks and trash receptacles throughout the city.

    Yet it appears if you’re a challenger running for office like Richard Penta you or your supporters are subject to fines by the city if you violate the city ordinance. While on the other hand incumbents office holder are allowed to place political advertisement on banners at Mc Makin field or on trash receptacles on Broadway without any penalty.

    This is how you end up with another law suit against the city on Constitutional grounds because some people don’t like competition and frankly at a cost of $750,000 dollar it is not something the taxpayers of Revere should have to pay for again.

    Therefore I will be asking that the City Council remove the city’s political sign ordinance as a matter of fairness to all candidates and most importantly to the taxpayers of Revere.

    Surely we do not want to repeat history again. Especially at a possible cost of $750,000

  • Taxpayer

    Thank Colella for tyhe mess we are in He deserves to lose for all the money that he has cost us taxpayers.

  • Taxpayer

    Thank Colella for tyhe mess we are in He deserves to lose for all the money that he has cost us taxpayers.

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