Burning Man is suing Pershing County for trying to increase levies on the event. Despite recent legislation passed by the Assembly in Nevada, the lawsuit continues. Pershing County hit back with a motion to dismiss – which was dismissed. The Judge recently made a preliminary ruling, dismissing some of Burning Man’s claims but allowing the lawsuit to continue (and the lawyers on both sides to continue to get paid).
According to the Reno Gazette-Journal:
On Thursday, Pershing District Attorney Jim Shirley responded, calling U.S. District Court Judge Robert Jones’ ruling on April 26 a victory for the county.
“The dismissal of three of the six claims that Burning Man filed was a huge victory for Pershing County and a huge defeat for Burning Man,” Shirley said in an email. “That means that Burning Man failed to even make a facial showing on those three claims. The judge also pared down two of the other…claims, meaning he dismissed portions of them. This was also a victory for Pershing County and a defeat for Burning Man. To portray this otherwise, is not only laughable, it is an enormous spin on what the judge’s ruling really means.”
He added, “In Pershing County, we are enormously happy with the ruling because we had such a burden to prove the claims did not merit going forward. The judge was reviewing allegations which were full of hyperbole and inaccuracy.”
Black Rock City LLC sued Pershing County last year because of a county festival ordinance that would regulate the annual arts and free expression festival, which attracts more than 50,000 people each year.
Jones threw out Black Rock City’s claim that the county cannot regulate the event because it’s already permitted by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, a federal agency.
Perhaps predictably, the BMOrg claimed victory also:
“The biggest claims in the lawsuit were the First Amendment claims and contract violation claims,” said Ray Allen, the government relations and legal affairs manager for Black Rock City. “We’re focusing on the First Amendment aspects of it and the breach of contract and for us it’s a win because those get to move forward.”
The matter is expected to go to trial on Sept. 24 in Reno.
From the SF Examiner:
“The judge’s ruling is a major victory for Burning Man,” said Black Rock City general counsel Terry Gross. “The county attempted to dismiss the entire case, and the court denied that as to all critical claims.”
The legal battle is moving forward at the same [time] as a bill in the Nevada Legislature that would exempt federal land from any local ordinances.
Three claims get to be heard: so the glass is half full? More money to be spent on lawyers, for an ordinance that might be over-ridden by State legislation – a victory?
In other bad news, it looks like Burning Man is being targeted for an 8% state tax in another new bill that appears mostly aimed at the legalized brothels in the tax haven state. We predict this tax being passed on to us punters via higher ticket prices, rather than BMOrg eating the cost.