Shaker Heights Taxpayers Union Sues City
With help of 1851 Center, SHTU seeks injunction against what it believes are threats and unconstitutional restrictions
The Shaker Heights Taxpayers Union on Thursday announced that it has filed a lawsuit against the city.
The complaint accuses the city of "unconstitutional official conduct, policies, practices, regulations, restrictions, threats, intimidation, and/or harassment" related to the city's previous demand that the group cease the use of a logo that parodies the trademarked, four-leaf logo of Shaker Heights.
The group seeks an immediate injunction against those actions and "nominal damages." The 1851 Center for Constitutional Law, a Columbus-based nonprofit organization, filed the suit on the SHTU's behalf with the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio.
The SHTU believes that the city threatened the group with its own lawsuit under the guise of the Lanham (trademark) Act. The complaint states that the city's underlying motivation was to quiet the SHTU's opposition of the upcoming income tax increase vote on Aug. 7.
“This is an appalling attempt by city officials to silence anyone who stands in the way of their access to more of Shaker Heights residents’ earnings,” Maurice Thompson, Executive Director of the 1851 Center, said in a statement.
SHTU leader Mark Zetzer said last month that the group would no longer use the logo. However, an account in the complaint states that group members were "perplexed" that the city would not allow the group to use the logo if it were accompanied by a disclaimer noting that the group has no affiliation with the city.
Shaker Heights Interim Law Director Bill Gruber is listed with the city as a defendant. He withheld comments Thursday afternoon because he had not finished reviewing the complaint.
View the complaint by clicking 'PDF' to the right.