Flesh Club case goes back to trial court

If you’re tracking the City of San Bernardino’s legal actions against the Flesh Club, you’ll be interested in a state Supreme Court decision Thursday that sends the issue over $1.4 million in lost profits back to the trial courts. Staff Writer Andrew Edwards tackled the issue for The Sun.

4:03 p.m.: CA Supreme Court reverses decision that city owes Flesh Club owners $1.4 million

By Andrew Edwards, Staff Writer
Article Launched: 04/24/2008 04:07:15 PM PDT

SAN BERNARDINO – The California Supreme Court today reversed an appellate court’s decision that the city owed the Flesh Club’s owners $1.4 million in lost profits.

The Supreme Court’s action did not put an end to the case. Instead, the case is headed back to trial court and attorneys for both sides predicted they could win in that venue.

“We’re in better shape now,” City Attorney James F. Penman said.

The legal battle goes back to 1995. Then, City Hall obtained a court order in San Bernardino Superior Court to block nude dancing at Flesh Club, which is on Hospitality Lane.

However, that order was later dissolved and a jury eventually awarded Manta Management Corp. $1.4 million in lost profits, as nude dancing was blocked at Flesh Club from 1995 to 1999 during legal proceedings. The damages were based on the notion that the city could be held liable since the ordinance that functioned as the basis of the 1995 court order was judged to be unconstitutional.

But the state Supreme Court found that it was the 1995 court order itself, rather than the city’s law, that shut down the club. In other words, the court found that it wasn’t the city’s fault that Manta lost money.

Maybe.

The state directed the case to return to trial court to settle the question of whether the 1995 court order would have been issued had the city given a judge correct information on how much land was set aside for adult businesses.

Both sides agree that a San Bernardino staffer overstated the amount of land where Flesh Club could have operated under the zoning laws in place when the legal battle began.

Penman expressed confidence that the city could prove that enough land was available. Manta’s attorney, Roger Jon Diamond, responded that his side would prevail since the old zoning law was struck down.

“I think it’s a foregone conclusion,” Diamond said.

andrew.edwards@inlandnewspapers.com

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