Storey brothel case before Nevada Supreme Court
Embattled brothel operator and would-be Hells Angel David Burgess asks the Nevada Supreme Court today to reinstate his license to operate the Old Bridge Ranch.
The state case is one of three court actions Burgess has involving the brothel at Mustang 15 miles east of Reno and the decision by Storey County commissioners to pull his license. The others are his bankruptcy case filed amid Internal Revenue Service claims he owed back taxes and a federal lawsuit charging the county violated his civil rights by trying to revoke his brothel operator’s license.
Monday’s hearing is an appeal of Judge Mike Fondi’s decision refusing to overturn the Storey County Commission’s revocation of his business license.
Commissioners revoked his brothel operator’s license in June in a hearing that focused almost entirely on his association with the motorcycle group the Hell’s Angels. He argues the board’s decision was arbitrary and that he wasn’t given adequate notice of the allegations against him or time to prepare a defense.
Fondi refused to reinstate the license, forcing Burgess to appeal to the Supreme Court. County officials say they have the right to revoke Burgess’s license for any reason because it is a privilege license.
The bankruptcy case was filed last June and, technically, has already been resolved with a plan paying off creditors including IRS and keeping his legal brothel in business. Burgess argued the county had no right to move against his license because federal law prohibits attacking a business which is protected by bankruptcy proceedings.
Bankruptcy Judge Bert Goldwater rejected that logic but U.S. District Judge Ed Reed reversed that ruling saying that, whether a brothel or any other business, Burgess was protected after filing for bankruptcy. He said the Storey County Commission should have had the court’s permission before revoking his license because that action has a major impact on the value of the business. Reed sent the case back for a hearing on Burgess’s claim for damages caused by Storey County’s actions.
The other legal action is Burgess’s civil rights suit against Storey County. He says commissioners had no right to pull his license for associating with the Hell’s Angels and that doing so violated his first amendment rights to freedom of association as well as his 14th amendment rights.
That issue is in U.S. District Court in Reno.