Penthouse Club Sues Detroit for Adult Entertainment Permit

DETROIT — Attorneys representing the Penthouse Club in Detroit have sued the city for refusing to issue an adult entertainment permit.

According to the suit, the club is accusing the city of refusing to take action on a request for permission to offer adult entertainment. The Detroit City Code defines and regulates adult entertainment, requiring licenses and imposing regulations for conduct by entertainers and other venue employees.

"We're attacking the city of Detroit's ordinances," attorney Michael Donaldson, who represents the club's owners, told XBIZ. "We're arguing that this is prior restraint."

The owners of the club, ABCDE Operating LLC, is using the Penthouse Club name under license.

The problem dates back to 2007, when the Penthouse Club wanted the venue's Class C License — with Sunday Sales, Entertainment and Topless Activity — transferred. Penthouse was required to schedule and pay for inspections by various city departments, which had not issued inspection reports when Penthouse Club applied for a Class D license in January 2008.

The city responded with a temporary moratorium on considering activity permits, which has been renewed regularly through the suit's filing on Nov. 24, most recently on Dec. 1. Although the club has been operating as a topless bar under a Temporary Occupancy Permit since Feb. 6, the suit says that the city is using a portion of the zoning code that the city knows is unconstitutional "to justify its inaction."

The suit asks for the federal court to declare the ordinances unconstitutional and enjoin the city and its representatives from using them in the future. The suit also asks for costs and attorneys fees.