• Internet cafes file lawsuit: Two thousand people could lose their jobs before Christmas

    By: Jamarlo Phillips , Action News Jax

    Updated:

    JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A push to close dangerous businesses in Jacksonville could be delayed because of a new lawsuit.

    The attorney who filed the lawsuit is representing three internet cafes in Jacksonville. 

    Kelly Mathis says the city ordinance that intends to shut internet cafes down is unconstitutional and will leave thousands of people out of work.


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    Tanzi Maestre works at an internet cafe on Jacksonville’s northside. This month makes 11 years she's been working there.

    “I'm pretty upset actually, they gave us until February and now they’re going back on their word so that makes me lose some faith in the system,” Maestre explained. 

    Instead of waiting for an approved February first deadline, the city wants all internet cafes closed now.

    The city says internet cafes are a nuisance and draw crime into the city but attorney Kelly Mathis disagrees.

    “Some of them may be but to broadly apply that to every game room without giving the game rooms an opportunity to disprove that we think violates the Constitution,” said Maestre. 

    Action News Jax first told you in June when 15 internet cafes in Jacksonville were forced to close their doors after not being in compliant with city codes. 

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    “We’ve done everything they told us to do. In the last hour they take all your money and want to shut you down,” Maestre added. 

    “Two thousand people will lose their jobs before Christmas,” Mathis said.

    Action News Jax called City Counil president Scott Wilson Wednesday.

    Wilson says he was unaware of the lawsuit but believes it could potentially stop council from voting on the proposed early shutdown next week.

    “If the new ordinance is passed then the lawsuit will be amended and we will be moving for immediate relief in the courts,” said Mathis. 

    City Council will meet on Oct. 8t at Jacksonville City Hall. 

    Action News Jax will be there when it happens.

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