COA strikes portion of Indy no-smoking ordinance

June 24, 2015

An exception contained in the city of Indianapolis’ no-smoking ordinance for satellite facilities is unconstitutional and invalid, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled Wednesday. The judges voided this exception from the ordinance, but declined to void the entire ordinance.

The Thirsty Turtle sued in 2013 seeking to have the court declare Indianapolis’ no-smoking ordinance invalid. The law prohibits smoking in traditional restaurants and bars, such as the Thirsty Turtle, but has exceptions for private clubs, tobacco shops, and satellite facilities. As of April 1, 2012, Hoosier Park Winner’s Circle OTB in Indianapolis was the only business that held a license to operate as a satellite facility under the ordinance.

The 7th Circuit affirmed the city’s smoking ban involving the differing treatment of bars and restaurants as compared to private clubs and tobacco shops but did not rule on the satellite issue. That issue is what is before the Court of Appeals in Whistle Stop Inn, Inc., and Louise Liford d/b/a Thirsty Turtle v. City of Indianapolis, Mayor Greg Ballard, Indianapolis City-County Council and Hoosier Park, LLC 49A02-1407-MI-519. The trial court ruled in favor of the city and Hoosier Park.

The judges ruled that the exception allowing smoking in Hoosier Park violates the Equal Privileges and Immunities Clause of the Indiana Constitution. The exception treats satellite facilities differently than bars and restaurants and this disparate treatment is not reasonably related to the inherent differences between the two entities, Judge John Baker wrote.

But the judges declined to declare the whole ordinance invalid as Thirsty Turtle sought and instead severed the exception from the ordinance.  The ordinance allows for sections to be severed, leaving the rest of the ordinance intact.

The matter is remanded for further proceedings.


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