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Federal Civil Rights Lawsuit Filed to Bring Formula One Racing Plans to a Halt in Miami Gardens

Federal Civil Rights Lawsuit Filed to Bring Formula One Racing Plans to a Halt in Miami Gardens

[MIAMI GARDENS] – Residents and homeowners associations from Miami Gardens (“Plaintiffs”) filed a Federal Civil Rights lawsuit against Miami-Dade County, Mayor Carlos Gimenez, the Miami Dolphins organization, Formula One, Liberty Media Corporation, and others (“Defendants”) to challenge their racial discriminatory decisions and actions to bring high-speed Formula One racing to the Hard Rock Stadium in the City of Miami Gardens, Florida on Friday, October 30.

In the spring of 2018, Formula One formally announced plans to create a Miami Grand Prix for high-speed automobile racing, anticipated to take place through Downtown Miami in Bayfront Park and the Port of Miami in 2019.

However, the County acquiesced to the Downtown Miami residents who did not want the race in their neighborhood due to noise and inconvenience, and instead began planning a four-day racing event at the Hard Rock Stadium in the heart of Miami Gardens, a predominantly Black community.

The Complaint alleges that Miami-Dade County and Mayor Gimenez, acting in his official capacity, discriminated against the residents based on race, in violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and 42 U.S.C. §1983, and that all Defendants conspired to bring Formula One to the Hard Rock Stadium in violation of Plaintiffs’ constitutional rights.

The Complaint details the longstanding customs, policies, and practices of Miami-Dade County that disadvantage Black residents in Miami Gardens. Plaintiffs also allege that by hosting the Formula One race Miami-Dade County will violate Florida’s Public Trust Doctrine, as well as county and city noise ordinances.

“To try to foist this race into our community, without almost any input from residents who would be affected, is not only outrageous, but disrespectful to a predominantly African-American community whose voices too often are ignored. This is environmental racism, pure and simple,” said Betty Ferguson, former Miami-Dade County Commissioner and resident of Miami Gardens.

As the Complaint details, the County and Mayor Gimenez are well aware that Miami Gardens residents vehemently oppose the event that will create deafening noise, disrupt traffic flows, deny residents of access to and from their homes, and compromise air quality, and that the Miami Gardens City Council voted against having a Formula One race in the City.

Despite a specific County resolution requiring the Mayor to coordinate any possible Formula One race with the hosting community, the County and Mayor Gimenez and his staff worked with the other Defendants in secret throughout 2019, and continue to this day planning the race with the Dolphins organization and Formula One over the residents’ opposition.

The Complaint cites acoustic reports, which confirm that the 14 individual residents who are the named Plaintiffs in the case, and tens of thousands of others who live near the Hard Rock Stadium, will experience dangerous noise levels that threaten permanent hearing damage and cause serious disruption to their quality of life and quiet enjoyment of their homes.

At peak hours of the race, the Plaintiffs living within a 2.5-mile radius will experience continuous noise levels exceeding 97 dBA (similar to the sound levels produced by a chainsaw).

Hearing damage is likely to occur when someone is exposed to 95 dBA for 50 minutes or 100 dBA for 15 minutes. The closest homes to the track can expect levels in excess of 106–131 dBA, at which point permanent hearing damage can be expected in under two minutes.

Plaintiffs allege that traffic disruptions and compromised air quality will also seriously impair their quality of life and quiet enjoyment of their homes.

Visitor traffic during the multi-day Formula One event, expected to attract at least 195,000 visitors, will interfere with the operation of local schools, businesses, and houses of worship and make it difficult for Miami Gardens residents to access their jobs and homes, especially for residents who rely on public transportation.

Disruptions to traffic patterns, flows, and congestion will also prevent emergency vehicles from reaching residents in crisis.

Additionally, exhaust generated by the racing and increased visitor traffic would cause dangerous levels of air pollution.

“Formula One racing in my community will certainly interfere with my quality of life. I will not be able to enjoy sitting on my patio without wearing earplugs and worrying about my blood pressure rising because of the noise. I will not be able to go to the grocery store, drug store, mall, recreation or fitness center without getting caught up in massive traffic jams,” said Ferguson.

To protect themselves and other residents of Miami Gardens, the Plaintiffs seek a permanent injunction to prevent the Defendants from proceeding with high-speed automobile races in the community.

Plaintiffs are represented by attorney Samuel J. Dubbin, P.A., of Dubbin & Kravitz, LLP.

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