Miami Gardens residents’ lawsuit against F1 race still alive

Former Miami-Dade County Commissioner Betty Ferguson holds a sign at a protest outside the Super Bowl on Feb.  2, 2020.

Former Miami-Dade County Commissioner Betty Ferguson holds a sign at a protest outside the Super Bowl on Feb. 2, 2020.

Miami Gardens residents trying to prevent Formula One racing from coming to Hard Rock Stadium in less than three weeks must show why noise from the first Miami Grand Prix would be so severe that they would “suffer actual injury,” a Miami-Dade Circuit Court judge said on Monday.

Judge Alan Fine asked the residents to provide an explanation in a court filing by Tuesday. The judge will then decide whether the issue is urgent enough to warrant an emergency hearing before the weekend-long event begins May 6.

If a court decision is not made by the time of this year’s race, the case could drag out and potentially affect future events – the Miami Grand Prix has a 10-year deal – but not the May event.

Fine called another hearing via Zoom for Wednesday at 3:30 pm and sought to assure residents he was not “ignoring” their concerns.

“I’ve done everything I can to take them into account,” Fine said.

The judge said that, in deciding whether the event could cause “unavoidable” harm to residents, he would consider questions such as whether they can simply stay inside their homes or even wear ear plugs during the races.

Sam Dubbin, a lawyer representing the Miami Gardens residents, said that would be an unreasonable request. And he told the judge he has “little doubt we have residents living close enough to the stage where the noise level would threaten hearing loss.”

An attorney for Hard Rock Stadium, Melissa Pallett-Vasquez, said the noise-related effects the residents are worried about “simply do not exist” at other Formula One events around the world. She also argued it would be unfair to hold an emergency hearing before the judge allows time for discovery and depositions, a process she said would take at least three months.

Pallett-Vasquez added that preparations for the event are too far along to call it off. If the judge put a stop to the event, she said, it could result in a $ 300 million economic loss.

“Make no mistake, judge, the tickets are sold, the track is 95% complete,” she said. “The train has left the station.”

The Miami Grand Prix is ​​scheduled for May 6-8 around the Hard Rock Stadium parking area.

A group of Miami Gardens residents, led by former Miami-Dade County Commissioner Betty Ferguson, have fervently opposed the event for years. A federal judge threw out the residents’ civil rights lawsuit opposing the Grand Prix last July, but they filed another lawsuit in Miami-Dade Circuit Court last month.

Aaron Leibowitz is a municipal government reporter for the Miami Herald. He writes about local politics in every city, village and town in Miami-Dade County and sometimes beyond.

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