(Case no. 1:10-cv-275, U.S. District Court, Eastern District, Chattanooga, Judge Collier)
Donna Roberts of Stites & Harbison, PLLC (Direct Representation)
Plaintiffs: Candice Wohlfeil
Defendants: City of East Ridge
Candice Wohlfeil, spiritual counselor and East Ridge flea market vendor, began reading tarot cards at her booth in 2007. In 2008, she was informed by the city of East Ridge that she was in violation of a local ordinance which prohibited anyone from fortune-telling.
The ordinance stated, “It shall be unlawful for any person to conduct the business of, solicit for, or ply the trade of fortune teller, clairvoyant, hypnotist, spiritualist, palmist, phrenologist, or other mystic endowed with supernatural powers.”
When Wohlfeil questioned the constitutionality of the law, the East Ridge city attorney said he would investigate and left her alone. Then, in September 2010, a codes enforcer came to her booth and told her she was in violation of the ordinance and that she would be fined $500 per violation from that point forward. She had no choice but to close down her booth. Wohlfeil again contacted the city attorney. When she received no reply, she contacted ACLU-TN.
On October 8, 2010, ACLU-TN filed a lawsuit on Wohlfeil’s behalf and the court immediately granted a temporary restraining order to stop the city from enforcing the ordinance pending a hearing.
With the temporary restraining order in place, Wohlfeil was able to reopen her booth.
In January 2011, the East Ridge City Council repealed the ordinance.
Fortune-Telling Ban Challenged in Federal Court (October 8, 2010)
Wohlfeil v. City of East Ridge – Temporary Restraining Order (October 8, 2010)
Wohlfeil v. City of East Ridge – Complaint (October 8, 2010)