CHICAGO, IL – When Laura Pekarik filed a lawsuit challenging Chicago’s strict food truck rules, she expected the battle to play out in court. What she didn’t expect was for the city to bring her family into it.
Pekarik owns Cupcakes for Courage, a mobile cupcake shop that makes stops along the streets of Chicago almost every day. She donates 10 percent of sales to cancer-related charities as a way to honor her sister Kathy, who was diagnosed with lymphoma in 2010 and now is in remission.
Her sister inspired the business but isn’t a part of it. Yet several weeks ago, the city tracked down Pekarik’s sister at her home, more than 50 miles outside Chicago. She was served a subpoena and ordered to turn over emails, text messages and other documents.
“My dad said they were getting knocks on the door, looking for Kathy,” said Pekarik, 28. “I was shocked because she doesn’t have any involvement. … I don’t think she even knew I was in a lawsuit.”
City spokesman John Holden said the information sought in this and other subpoenas is needed so the city can defend the food truck regulations in court.
But since Pekarik’s sister has nothing to do with the business — and has said as much to the city — her attorney, Robert Frommer, says the subpoena amounts to retaliation.
“The city’s tactics are nothing more than an attempt to bully the sole food truck owner courageous enough to stand up against City Hall,” said Frommer, of the Institute for Justice, a Chicago-based advocate for entrepreneurs’ rights.
At issue in this lawsuit is the rule that makes it illegal for mobile food vendors to park within 200 feet of brick-and-mortar businesses that sell food, and the requirement that food trucks be outfitted with a GPS so they can be tracked at all times. Violations of these rules result in fines as high as $2,000.
Find the entire article at chicagotribune.com <here>