Download DocumentTo Search and PrintDutchess/Putnam Restaurant & Tavern Assn. v. Putnam County Dept. of Health
Plaintiffs, a restaurant association and two restaurant owners, brought an action to stop the enforcement of a provision in the Putnam County Sanitary Code, adopted by the Putnam County Department of Health (Department) to regulate smoking in public places. According to the plaintiffs, the provision violated the separation of powers doctrine of the New York Constitution because it regulated smoking in commercial establishments more strictly than those found in New York State's previously existing Public Health Law. The plaintiffs also alleged that the Department's regulation violated their federal constitutional rights to equal protection and free speech. The United States District Court for the Southern District of New York found that the Department violated New York's separation of powers doctrine insofar as it had considered non-health related aspects when adopting the provision at issue, as well as insofar as the regulation concerned an issue that the New York State Legislature had specifically and unanimous decided not to regulate further. Accordingly, the Court permanently prohibited the Department from enforcing the regulation. However, the Court found no evidence to support the plaintiffs' claims of federal equal protection and free speech violations.