Briefs Filed on Bus Advertising Lawsuit

Additional briefs have now been filed by the parties in a bus advertising lawsuit – in response to a court ruling against the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority issued on Sept. 28, 2012.

Plaintiff Blaine Coleman had attempted to purchase an advertisement on AATA buses that included the text “Boycott ‘Israel’ Boycott Apartheid,” and an image depicting a scorpion-like creature with a skull for a head. [.pdf of image and text of proposed ad] Coleman filed suit last year on Nov. 28, 2011.

In the Sept. 28 ruling, Mark Goldsmith of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan denied the AATA’s motion to dismiss the case. Goldsmith also granted plaintiff Blaine Coleman’s request for a preliminary injunction. But Goldsmith did not specify the relief to be granted to Coleman under the injunction, and instead asked the parties to file supplemental briefs outlining their view of proper relief.

Responding to the court’s Sept. 28 ruling, the ACLU of Michigan, which is representing Coleman, submitted a brief on Oct. 12 outlining arguments for relief in the form of a requirement that Coleman’s ad be placed on AATA buses.  [.pdf of ACLU brief on proper relief] [.pdf of supplemental brief]

AATA’s response was required to come within 14 days of the ACLU’s brief and was filed on Oct. 26. The AATA’s position is that it should not be required to place Coleman’s ad but rather should be allowed to revise its advertising policy in light of the court’s finding. [.pdf of AATA view of proper relief]

As a next step, based on the court’s Sept. 28 ruling, a hearing could be held to entertain oral arguments on the question of proper relief.

In the meantime, in light of the court’s denial of the AATA’s motion to dismiss, the AATA two weeks ago filed its formal answer to Coleman’s initial complaint. The answer to the complaint denies the claims made by Coleman and includes a demand for a jury trial. [.pdf of AATA answer to complaint]

The AATA board held a closed session lasting nearly two hours during its Oct. 18 meeting to discuss the pending litigation.