Retailer Sues City Over Fur Ban
Posted by Melissa Simon on Oct 2, 2013 - 2:27:15 PM
WEST HOLLYWOOD—Less than one week after an ordinance banning the sale of fur went into effect, a storeowner in West Hollywood is suing the city.
On Wednesday, September 26, the owner of Mayfair House, a specialty clothing and accessory store, filed a lawsuit seeking to have the ordinance declared unconstitutional and void, according to a statement from the store’s law firm.
"It is crystal clear that California's constitution grants the state Legislature the only authority to enact legislation relating to the protection of wildlife, including the exclusive power to pass laws regulating the market for products of wildlife, such as fur," said Michael O'Connor, an attorney representing the store, in a statement. “As a result, the city was preempted from, and had no authority to, enact the ordinance,” he added.
Johanna Judah, owner of Mayfair House, said the ordinance is “an ill-considered and illegal law” that is harmful to not only the city, but consumers and business owners as well.
“It was passed by city councilmen who have the political support of national animal rights activist groups who wish to impose their will over others despite the unconstitutional nature of the ordinance,” Judah said in a statement.
According to the 18-page, five-count complaint, Judah is asking the court to permanently order a stop to the enforcement of the ban.
The Fur Information Council of America (FICA) has also announced plans to file a complaint in an effort to block the enforcement of the ban as well, calling the ordinance “ill-conceived and lacking appropriate research.”
“We support Mayfair House’s determination to have the ordinance overturned and to protect the rights of businesses and consumers,” said Keith Kaplan, FICA executive director, in a statement. “We too are committed to the overturning of the ordinance and will support any and all efforts by injured parties. Animal activist groups and their followers cannot be allowed to foist their radical ideas on the rest of society,” he added.
John D’Amico, West Hollywood mayor pro tempore, said the city is not trying to restrict businesses.
“We’re in the business of creating an exciting place,” D’Amico told Al Jazeera. “Someone who is connected with the ideas that keep this city together will have a business that thrives. Someone who is disconnected with the goals of the city and has a rigid point of view [on fur] may have trouble,” he added.
Every year, the fashion industry’s fur trade leads to 50 million animal deaths, according to reports from the Humane Society of the United States.
“We’ve consistently worked to enact cutting-edge animal welfare legislation,” said Tamara White, Humane Society spokeswoman, in a statement. “This is in line with our values,” she added.
Under the ordinance, which went into effect on Saturday, September 21, any retailer found selling fur in the form of hats, shoes, clothing or gloves can be charged with a misdemeanor after three citations in one year. This has caused many stores to move locations, according to reports.
The city of West Hollywood issued the following statement regarding the lawsuit: “The city attorney’s office is reviewing the complaint (which it just received late this afternoon) and is not prepared to comment on the specific details in the lawsuit at this time. The city adopted the ordinance banning the sale of fur apparel products because the sale of these products in the city of West Hollywood is inconsistent with the city’s reputation as a Cruelty Free Zone for animals and the city’s goal of being a community that cares about animal welfare. The city’s position is that the ordinance is a constitutional means to further that goal.”
The city now has 21 days to file a response to the complaint, according to the law firm.