Foodservice Equipment Reports

NYC Restaurants Sue Over City’s Health Inspections

Forty restaurant owners in the Bronx have sued the city, calling the New York Health Department’s grading system unconstitutional and an unfair tax on small businesses.

In a $150 million lawsuit, the operators accuse health inspectors of levying excessive fines to raise revenue and driving eateries out of business. In addition, they claim the inspectors haven’t been properly trained so they enforce the health code in a selective, inconsistent manner. (About a third of last year’s summonses were issued for a miscellaneous category that includes dim light bulbs and improper labeling.) The operators also claim the fines are unconstitutional because the mayor used administrative fiat to enact the code instead of going through the city council.

The plaintiffs are seeking a stay of all fines until the case is resolved and a reorganization of the appeal process, which they called “intrinsically unfair.”

The city counters that its restaurant grading program has led to cleaner kitchens, with more than 80% of restaurants now earning “A” grades.

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