Fulbright Gets Preliminary Injunction in Racial and Religious Discrimination Case
On June 26, 2012, Fulbright attorneys obtained a preliminary injunction in a federal lawsuit brought on behalf of CAL Poultry Vikon, Inc. (CAL Poultry).
CAL Poultry is a chicken processing facility that caters primarily to the Buddhist, Asian-American and Hispanic-American communities in and around Rosemead, California by providing "Buddhist-style" chicken, which is fresh, whole chicken that includes the head and feet.
As a result of an ordinance passed by the City of Rosemead in 2010 that mandated the closure of any poultry processing facility in the city by July 5, 2012, CAL Poultry filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California against the City of Rosemead, the Rosemead City Council, and the Rosemead Planning Commission alleging various equal protection and due process violations, including discrimination based on religion, race and national origin.
After filing the lawsuit, CAL Poultry sought a preliminary injunction to prevent Rosemead from enforcing the ordinance, pending a full trial on the merits.
Fulbright presented oral argument for CAL Poultry, the thrust of which was that the City's purported concerns for health and safety in passing the ordinance were merely a pretext for shutting down CAL Poultry's business, and that without an injunction, CAL Poultry, as well as CAL Poultry's customers, would suffer irreparable harm in the event of the business's closure.
In granting a preliminary injunction in CAL Poultry's favor, The Honorable Dolly M. Gee agreed with Fulbright's arguments and concluded that "absent injunctive relief, [CAL Poultry] will be driven out of business in Rosemead and will lose the business reputation and customer goodwill that it has cultivated during the course of approximately 20 years of operation."
In addition, the Court pointed out that "[t]he public has an interest in eliminating discrimination on the basis of race or ethnic origin and ensuring that municipal governments do not enact ordinances that violate the Equal Protection Clause of the United States Constitution."
The Court concluded that "any perceived health or safety concerns relating to the continued operation of CAL Poultry are outweighed by the public's interest in upholding the Constitution."
By granting CAL Poultry's motion for preliminary injunction, the Court ordered that Rosemead is enjoined from implementing or enforcing the ordinance as to CAL Poultry, pending a final resolution of the case. The Court further waived the requirement of an injunction bond.