The United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit published a 23-page opinion on August 29,2013 vacating and remanding the decision of United States District Court Judge Kathy Williams dismissing Temple B’Nai Zion’s claims of religious discrimination against the City of Sunny Isles Beach. The Temple’s lawsuit had been filed in response to the City’s decision to designate the Temple’s property as a historic landmark over its objections, thereby paralyzing the Temple’s ability to remodel its synagogue. The City had claimed that the Temple’s property was a historic landmark because, only several years earlier, it had hosted a gathering of roughly 200 Holocaust survivors. This was the first historic designation in the City’s history, and occurred against the backdrop of longstanding deep animosity between the City’s Mayor, Norman Edelcup, and the Temple’s congregants.
The District Court dismissed the Temple’s lawsuit in 2012 on ripeness grounds, holding that the Temple’s claims would ripen only when it submitted formal expansion plans to the City. The Eleventh Circuit soundly rejected Judge Williams’ reasoning, finding that the Temple’s claims were ripe for review immediately upon the historic landmark designation. Therefore, the case will now proceed to trial.
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Temple B’Nai Zion is represented by Gary C. Rosen and Daniel L. Wallach of Becker & Poliakoff, P.A.’s Fort Lauderdale office. Mr. Rosen is the Managing Shareholder of Becker & Poliakoff, P.A., and Mr. Wallach is a shareholder in its Litigation Department. Mr. Wallach, a Board Certified Appellate Attorney, argued the case before the Eleventh Circuit.