In a recent court ruling, all remaining claims in a two-year legal battle between the city of Burbank and a Western-themed bar have been dismissed. Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Armen Tamzarian put an end to the dispute between Burbank, Los Angeles County health officials, and Baret Lepejian, former operator of Tinhorn Flats Saloon & Grill, along with his company, Barfly Inc.
The conflict arose when Lepejian refused to comply with COVID-19 pandemic regulations and kept his establishment open in December 2020, despite county visits and citations. After the county padlocked the bar’s front doors, Lepejian’s son, Lucas, resorted to cutting his way back in with a hacksaw.
Although Lepejian’s ex-wife eventually evicted him and Barfly from the premises, the legal battle persisted until this recent ruling. Burbank sought to have Tinhorn Flats’ health permit revoked and to ban Lepejian and Barfly from ever operating the location again.
However, Judge Tamzarian dismissed these claims, citing the eviction and Lepejian’s statement that he no longer intends to run any restaurants. The judge reasoned that there was no need to enjoin the defendants from operating the closed restaurant.
In a countersuit, the Lepejians accused Burbank officials of retaliating against them and infringing on their First Amendment rights due to their refusal to close during the COVID-19 shutdown orders. Nevertheless, Tamzarian found no evidence to support these claims. He emphasized that Burbank had demonstrated compliance with lawful county orders.
Additionally, the judge noted that the Lepejians’ argument of unconstitutional COVID-19 lockdowns lacked evidence, citing a 2021 2nd District Court of Appeal ruling supporting L.A. County’s outdoor dining bans during the pandemic.
The ruling leaves it unclear whether either side will pursue further legal action.