The case is The Clementine Co. d/b/a The Theater Center et al. v. Bill de Blasio. This civil rights lawsuit seeks to vindicate the constitutional rights of free speech and equal protection for the Plaintiff theaters and comedy clubs, which have been subject to unequal restrictions for a year and a half and are still being treated worse than similarly situated venues. The plaintiffs include The Theater Center, The Players Theatre, The Actors Temple, Soho Playhouse, The Gene Frankel Theatre, The Triad, The Broadway Comedy Club, and New York Comedy Club.
Catherine Russell, performer and general manager of The Theater Center, is leading the coalition’s fight.
These small-venue theaters have a top capacity of 144 seats, less than most restaurants, movie theaters, schools, and other recreational facilities that have already been allowed to reopen with restrictions. The small venues argue that, unlike larger Broadway theaters, they can easily conform to current health and safety requirements established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
They are suing the City of New York because once again it has imposed unequal restrictions in the form of a vaccine mandate called Key to NYC. The mandate applies differently to venues depending only on who is speaking and what they are saying. Thus, Plaintiffs are prohibited from admitting customers without requiring proof of vaccination when putting on theater or comedy shows. But no proof of vaccination is required for admission into the same theaters when church services are occurring there.
The suit seeks an injunctive relief, $1 in damages and attorney’s fees.
The attorney for the plaintiffs is James G. Mermigis, who has had success leading similar lawsuits for gyms and restaurants over the past few months.
The plaintiffs claim to have lost “millions of dollars in revenue and have had to layoff at least 8,000 employees.”
Bravo Cathy and the rest of the venues for standing up.