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Super Boat International Suing Key West

In a lawsuit filed on March 21, Super Boat International Productions, Inc., is suing the City of Key West, Fla., to compel the City Manager’s Office to “make a determination”—via a Writ of Mandamus—on a Special Event application SBI filed on November 16 for its weeklong “39th Annual Key West World Championship powerboat races.” A Writ of Mandamus essentially compels public officials to perform their legal duties, which according to the lawsuit means that the Key West city manager must deny or approve SBI’s Special Event application in a timely fashion.

The application was submitted by SBI legal counsel Albert Kelley more than a month before the city announced it would award the five-year race promoter contract through a Request For Proposal process.

From the lawsuit:

“Upon filing the Special Event Application with the City, Assistant City Manager Greg Veliz, advised Mr. Kelley that the Special Event Application would not be addressed or acted upon in any fashion and that, instead, the City Manager had decided to issue a Request For Proposal (RFP) for the Plaintiff’s Event.

“Upon returning to his office, Mr. Kelley emailed to the City Manager, Jim Scholl, and to the City Attorney, Shawn D. Smith, a letter regarding the propriety of the City’s decision to issue an RFP for the Petitioner’s Event and included a copy of the completed Special Event Application.

“Despite the fact that more than four months have passed, the City Manager has taken no action whatsoever on the Special Event Application.

“The City Manager has failed and refused to comply with his duties under the City Code by failing to make one of the three decisions possible under the City Code with respect to the Special Event Application: (1) Deny the application (2) Administratively approve the application if eligible. (3) Approve the application and forward the same to the City Commission for final approval or denial.

“ As stated above, Plaintiff has information that the City Manager has failed to act upon the Special Event Application because the City has inappropriately (and likely unlawfully) decided to issue an RFP.”

The lawsuit also alleges that the City of Key West was helping Race World Offshore—another organization bidding for the five-year race promoter contract—present a plan to the City Commission to “take over the Plaintiff’s Event, even going so far as to sponsor a proposal to the City Commission for the development of a boat racing museum by a third party, which if approved would have transferred control of the Plaintiff’s Event to Race World Offshore.”

“It is believed that Defendant is delaying action on Plaintiff’s Special Event Permit Application in an effort to benefit Race World Offshore and to strip Plaintiff of an event that Plaintiff has run for nearly four decades,” the lawsuit contends.

SBI is seeking the following remedies from the city though the suit:

A. Issuing an alternative writ in mandamus pursuant to Rule 1.630(D)(2), Florida Rules of Civil Procedure.

B. Directing Defendant to show cause why a decision has not been made to either grant or deny the Special Event Permit Application.

C. Directing Defendant to issue a decision on the Special Event Permit Application.

D. Awarding Plaintiff such other and further relief as the Court deems just and proper.

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