U.S. Seventh Circuit - The FindLaw 7th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries Blog

Hustler Hollywood Can't Open Next to Chuck E Cheese's

A Hustler Hollywood store has lost its interlocutory appeal to Seventh Circuit of the denial of a preliminary injunction to allow the establishment to open right next door to a Chuck E. Cheese's in Indianapolis.

The primary issue boils down to a zoning rights fight which started in 2016 when the establishment believed it would be allowed to operate based on conversations it had with city officials. When Hustler Hollywood sought permits to put up signage, the city denied those permits citing zoning restrictions prohibiting adult stores. Unfortunately for the chain of adult stores, the courts have sided with the city zoning board in finding that it would be a violation of the city's zoning law to permit the store to operate next to the popular kids' restaurant, even if the store promised not to hold classes or other events.

Borderline Zoning

Curiously, the proposed location of the Hustler Hollywood establishment is located across the street from an area that is zoned in such a way that the store could operate. Regardless of this fact, the appellate and lower courts both found that the zoning board's decision to deny Hustler the right to operate was not a constitutional violation, as alleged.

The courts explained that the restrictions are reasonable, in that stores located within that zone can sell adult products, but cannot have these be a primary source of revenue (not more than 25%). Additionally, the court found that there was no equal protection violation in the denial.

While Hustler Hollywood continues to argue that their establishment is not an adult bookstore, nor an adult entertainment service, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals just didn't buy it. The court explains, in graphic detail, that Hustler attempted to classify many of their products as not adult products in order to get around the zoning rules. Despite clever use of language, the court was quick to point out that it knew that the phrase "marital aids" was code for "sex toys."

Related Resources: