40 restaurant owners from the Bronx filed a $150 million lawsuit against the city yesterday, claiming that the Health Department's system of letter grades and fines is unconstitutional. The health codes, the lawsuit argues, are a "revenue scheme," made to be confusing in order to "extract monies" from businesses by slapping them with fines. Those fines are selective and inconsistent, the restaurant owners say, and are an unfair tax on small business owners.
This comes just a day after the Post reported that 65 percent of the fines issued by the DOH were "unrelated to food quality," and that Andrew Rigie, the executive director of the New York City Hospitality Alliance is pushing City Council to pass legislation that would address this issue. Worth noting, however, as Grub Street points out, that the Post's statistics may not be entirely straightforward, and some of those fines may be more related to food safety than they seem.
· Eateries' grade suit vs. 'C'ity [NYPost]
· 'Fine' Dining Outrage [NYP]
· How the Post Messed Up on Its Report on Restaurant-Inspection Fines [GS]
· All Coverage of the Department of Health [~ENY~]