Florida Shed Concerts Allowed

A Hillsborough circuit judge dismissed a lawsuit against the Florida State Fair Authority July 11th that sought to ban concerts at Tampa’s 20,000-seat Ford Amphitheatre.

The ruling stated the Florida State Fair Authority has sovereign immunity as a state agency, according to the Tampa Tribune.

The suit was filed in 2004 by the Environmental Protection Commission of Hillsborough County against the fair authority and Clear Channel Entertainment, which operates the shed.

The EPC has sought to halt concerts there until Clear Channel can assure that shows will not violate the commission’s noise regulations.

Judge Charlene Honeywell’s ruling reportedly means that the fair authority cannot be sued unless specific exceptions are proved. She gave the EPC 10 days to amend its complaint.

Mark Bentley, an attorney for the EPC, said the new complaint will argue that noise violations qualify as a waiver of immunity for the fair authority and Clear Channel to be sued, according to the Tribune.

“We look at it as more a technical procedure,” EPC attorney Richard Tschantz told the paper. “What we need to do is give [the judge] ammunition to find there are ways past this threshold issue and that they are not really immune.”

Clear Channel has denied that its concerts are too loud and claims the EPC holds Ford Amphitheatre to a different standard than other venues in the area. The company built the shed on property it leases from the fair authority and says it should share the fair’s immunity. That issue has yet to be decided.

Fair Authority attorney Gordon Schiff hoped the ruling would prompt a settlement agreement, the Tribune said. The next hearing in the case is scheduled for August 27th.