Circus company claims Pittsburgh's animal handling ordinance is unconstitutional

By Noddy A. Fernandez | Jun 7, 2018

PITTSBURGH — Syria Shriners, doing business as the 69th Annual Shrine Circus, filed a lawsuit May 18 against the City of Pittsburgh and the city council for alleged abuse of power and violation of the Home Rule Charter and Optional Plans Law and the Pennsylvania Constitution.

The lawsuit was filed in the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County.

According to the complaint, the city's recently enacted Ordinance No. 61-2017 ignores the safety and welfare of the general public and of all those engaged in animal handling and should not be enforced because it is unconstitutional and an illegal exercise of municipal power.

The Shriners claim the ordinance's sole purpose and ultimate goal is to outlaw circuses entirely by regulating wild and exotic animal handlers in Pittsburgh in a manner that makes it impossible for them to conduct business.

The plaintiff said the city and city council allegedly enacted an ordinance that places the Shriners in danger of losing relationships with contractors, insurers, lessors and patrons.

The plaintiff requests a trial by jury and seeks a ruling that the city lacks the authority to enforce the ordinance, making it void. It is represented by Ronald L. Hicks Jr. of Meyer, Unkovic & Scott LLP in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County case number GD-18-6048

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Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County Meyer, Unkovic & Scott LLP

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