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America’s Best Family Showplace v. City of New York, Dept. of Bldgs

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Citation Edit

America’s Best Family Showplace Corp. v. City of New York, Dept. of Bldgs, 536 F. Supp 170 (E.D.N.Y. 1982) (full-text).

Factual Background Edit

Plaintiff, America’s Best Family Showplace Corp., sought to install forty dining tables which contained embedded coin-operated videogame machines. According to Plaintiff, the addition of these games would ensure financial success, while their absence will almost certainly spell financial doom for the restaurant. Under New York City law, establishments with more than four such machines were considered arcades and were restricted to particular zoning areas as described in the New York City Zoning Resolution.

Trial Court Proceedings Edit

The Plaintiff challenged the constitutionality of various New York City zoning and licensing laws that regulated coin-operated videogames. Plaintiff asserted that certain sections of the Zoning Resolution were unconstitutional under the First and Fourteenth Amendments. It filed a motion seeking preliminary injunctive relief.

The court denied the motion. The trial court held that the City of New York's enforcement of its zoning scheme might have caused Plaintiff irreparable injury, but Plaintiff failed to demonstrate probable success on the merits or serious questions on the merits accompanied by a balance of hardships in its favor. The court held that no ideas were communicated by video games and they were not entitled to First Amendment protection. As such, the city's regulatory process in this matter had to be measured against Fourteenth Amendment standards. The disputed zoning scheme was rationally related to legitimate public concerns about noise and congestion and it did not stop Plaintiff from viably using its property.

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