Judge Advances Hearing Date on Burbank Restaurant's Bid to End Injunction

LOS ANGELES (CNS) - A judge today granted a Burbank bar and grill a speedy hearing on its bid to lift a preliminary injunction previously imposed on the business, which offered outdoor dining when it was banned in Los Angeles County during the height of the coronavirus pandemic and then repeatedly defied orders to close.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Mitchell L. Beckloff issued the preliminary injunction and $1,150 in sanctions against Barfly Inc., the operating company for the Tinhorn Flats Saloon & Grill on Magnolia Boulevard, on April 9. This morning, he advanced the hearing on whether to cancel the injunction from July 15 to May 28.

Barfly attorney Mark J. Geragos stated in his court papers that the business would suffer “irreparable harm” if the motion to end the preliminary injunction was not heard sooner than July, stating that on April 10 the city “went ahead and built a wall around Barfly's property, effectively using this court's order to seize the property of Barfly.”

The city did not object to having the motion rescheduled to an earlier date, according to Geragos' court papers.

In support of lifting the preliminary injunction, Geragos maintains that the measure is “moot in light of the reopening of Los Angeles (County) restaurants under the revised COVID-19 protocols. It is well established that Tin Horn Flats was never an inherently dangerous restaurant.”

The public's interest is not served by “enjoining directives that no longer exist,” Geragos said, arguing further in court papers that the city should be sanctioned for building the wall around the restaurant.

“Despite the court providing clear guidance as to why it was not permitting Burbank to barricade Tin Horn Flats, because it would create a public health and safety risk, Burbank went ahead and put a fence up around the perimeter of the establishment the very day after the court issued (its) order,” Geragos wrote.

The city also should be sanctioned for arresting Lucas Lepejian, the 20-year-old son of the restaurant owner, who was lawfully on the restaurant property at the time, according to Geragos' court papers.

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health previously revoked the eatery's health permit, and the Burbank City Council in March revoked its conditional-use permit. The preliminary injunction requires the business to stay closed until it obtains the legally required permits to reopen.

The city maintains the restaurant is an ongoing public nuisance.

Tinhorn Flats owner Baret Lepejian, who lives in Thailand while his children operate the restaurant, last month said he supported their actions amid the pandemic and vowed not to pay the roughly $50,000 in fines that have been levied against the business.

“Show me one shred of evidence how I am endangering the public,” he told the Los Angeles Times. “This has never been about safety or the public. It's never been about that. This whole thing is about fear and control.”

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