On Tuesday, the Floyd County Health Department removed the photo from its website of one of its trucks in front of the NABC Bank Street Brewhouse, which had accompanied a post on foodborne diseases that made no mention of the restaurant. That article also has been deleted.
In response to the picture, the New Albanian Brewing Company filed a cease and desist order and a notice of tort claim against the Floyd County Health Department for defamation and "violation of the First Amendment of the United States Constitution due to adverse action by a state actor designed to retaliate against claimants for engaging in a constitutionally protected speech activity." NABC is asking for an apology—and $700,000 in compensatory damages.
Rick Fox, the attorney for the department's board of directors, told the News and Tribune
that he "received the tort claim on Tuesday and hasn't met with the department's board to discuss it yet.
But he said to make sure there weren't any misconceptions about the photo and the associated post on E. coli, they decided to take it down.
"They removed the photo, not in that the health department had done anything wrong, but we most certainly don't want to give the wrong idea," Fox said. "If they think someone's getting the wrong idea, we don't want to do that. As I understand it, the Floyd County Health Department truck was just showing that they were doing their normal inspections. Those [inspections] are subject to public review, the truck could have been in front of any business."
Fox apparently doesn't understand it well. The truck wasn't in front of any business; it was in front of a business that was appealing a citation from the health department, and whose owner was publicly and repeatedly criticizing the department.
Baylor and NABC continue to appeal the citation the Floyd County Health Department issued NABC for dispensing beer without a temporary food permit at a outdoor concert at Bicentennial Park. Baylor told the News and Tribune, his "company 'can find no coherent precedent' for requiring alcohol vendors to obtain a temporary food permit."
Currently, the lead story on the Floyd County Health Department's website is Roger Baylor Complaint Against the Floyd County Health Department Rejected By State Official." The complaint, however, doesn't pertain to the citation itself but rather one "alleging violation of the Access to Public Records Act."
[Photo: Courtesy Floyd County Health Department]