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Broad Ripple Property Group, LLC v. City of Indianapolis - 9/26/17

9/26/17 11:00 am EST

Broad Ripple Property Group (BRPG) leased commercial real estate to Weihong Tan Kreiter d/b/a Sunrise Therapy Spa (Tenant).  From that location, Tenant operated an unlicensed massage establishment in violation of Indianapolis Rev. Code § 912-2.  Further, in September 2015, two undercover IMPD officers made separate visits to the massage establishment and were offered genital touching in violation of Indianapolis Rev. Code § 912-6(f).  IMPD subsequently shut down Tenant’s business, made an arrest, and notified BRPG.  Previously unaware of Tenant’s lack of a license and illicit activity, BRPG promptly terminated the lease.

On September 25, 2015, the City of Indianapolis filed suit against BRPG, alleging violations under §§ 912-2 and 912-6.  The City sought civil fines and damages, a temporary restraining order, and a permanent injunction.  The parties filed competing summary judgment motions, and the trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the City on all counts.  On appeal, BRPG contends that as a matter of law it cannot be found in violation of the ordinances and that the trial court improperly held BRPG strictly liable for the violations of Tenant.  Directing us to Indianapolis Rev. Code § 801-301, the City contends that as the property owner BRPG can be held indirectly liable for Tenant’s operation of an unlicensed massage establishment.  The City has also filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that the issue is moot.