Supreme Court not intervening in SPI food truck lawsuit

By Gaige Davila 

The Texas Supreme Court has denied a request to intervene in an ongoing lawsuit against the City of South Padre Island regarding their food truck ordinance. 

On June 18, the Texas Supreme Court denied SurfVive and the owners of the since-closed Chile De Arbol food truck’s request for the high court to order the City of South Padre Island to stop enforcing portions of their food truck ordinance that were ruled unconstitutional late last year.

No explanation was given for the denial.  

Last December, Cameron County Judge Arturo Nelson ruled that portions of South Padre Island’s food truck ordinance—capping the number of operating permits for food trucks and requiring food truck owners to get a “sign off” from brick-and-mortar restaurant owners before receiving a permit—unconstitutional. 

The city, however, continued enforcing the ordinance, saying the district court did not specifically instruct them to stop. After months of continuing to enforce the ordinance, the food truck owners filed the Supreme Court petition on April 16. 

Regardless of the Supreme Court’s denial, Arif Panju, managing attorney for the Institute for Justice and attorney for the food truck owners, said they are continuing to fight the case. 

SurfVive and the Avalos brothers prevailed at summary judgment and that remains true today,” Panju told the PRESS in an email, noting Judge Nelson’s initial ruling on the case. 

Currently, the lawsuit is awaiting a ruling by the Thirteenth Court of Appeals.

“(We) are confident the appeals court will find that Judge Nelson has jurisdiction to issue his ruling because South Padre Island is not immune from the Texas Constitution,” Panju said. 

After the Thirteenth Court of Appeals ruling, Panju said they will ask Nelson to enforce the order and possibly hold the city in contempt of the court. 

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