Removing brochures for an Atlantic City strip club from highway rest stops might prove costly for two state authorities.
Anthony Ariemma sued the South Jersey Transportation Authority and the New Jersey Turnpike Authority last year, claiming the state-run entities infringed on his First Amendment rights when advertisements for his strip club, Bare Exposure, were pulled from service areas on the Garden State Parkway and the Atlantic City Expressway.
Now, U.S. District Court Judge Renee Marie Bumb has denied the authorities' request to dispose the case quickly without a trial, saying more time is needed for the discovery process. Meanwhile, Bare Exposure had asked the court for permission to put its brochures back in the rest stops until the conclusion of a forthcoming trial, but Bumb denied that request as well in an opinion filed last month in U.S. District Court of New Jersey.
Bare Exposure has also sued HMSHost, of Bethesda, Md., which manages the rest stops for both authorities.
Documents show that the brochures in question feature a woman's face and advertise Bare Exposure as "Atlantic City's only all nude entertainment." The brochure goes on to say that the establishment provides all-nude couch dances and five intimate champagne rooms. A coupon features a buy-one-get-one-free promotion on couch dances.
Court documents filed in July show that HMSHost General Manager Greg Dion was concerned that the brochures were potentially inappropriate and had them removed from display racks at the service plazas. Dion said he made the decision without consulting with any representatives of the Turnpike Authority or SJTA.
Mike Daily, an attorney representing Bare Exposure, has said government agencies do not have the right to restrict free speech. Bare Exposure paid $5,000 to display brochures through advertising agency CTM Media Group.
The decision to remove the brochures has caused the company financial harm as the advertising campaign has been diminished in value. Meanwhile, the business is losing prospective patrons without the rest stop advertisements, Bare Exposure said in court documents.
SJTA spokesman Kevin Rehmann said the authority will not comment on pending litigation. NJTA spokesman Tom Feeney did not respond to requests for comment Tuesday.
A proposed discovery plan filed Monday states that a conference scheduled for this week has been postponed, according to U.S. District Court documents. Following the rescheduled conference, the parties will have between 15 days and five months to file various document with the court.
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