COURT OF COMMON PLEAS
FAIRFIELD COUNTY, OHIO
ROBERT A. NEINAST
8617 Ashford Lane
Pickerington, OH 43147
Plaintiff,v.BOARD OF TRUSTEES OF THE
FAIRFIELD COUNTY DISTRICT
219 N. Broad Street
Lancaster, OH 43130
COMPLAINT FOR DECLARATORY JUDGMENT AND PERMANENT INJUNCTION
Now comes Plaintiff Robert A. Neinast, acting pro se, and for his Complaint, respectfully states as follows:
1. Plaintiff Robert A. Neinast is a citizen and a resident of Ohio, residing at 8617 Ashford Lane, Pickerington, OH.
2. Defendant Board of Trustees of the Fairfield County District Library ("the Board") is the governing authority for the Fairfield County District Library ("the Library"), organized pursuant to Chapter 3375 of the Ohio Revised Code. The Board is a body politic and corporate. The Board is authorized under Section 3375.40(H) of the Ohio Revised Code to make and publish rules for the proper operation and management of the library.
3. Marilyn Steiner is the Director of the Fairfield County District Library.
4. Within the ambit of his personal liberty, Neinast customarily and regularly goes barefoot. While this exercise of personal liberty requires no justification, Neinast avers that he goes barefoot for health, comfort, expressive, and spiritual reasons.
5. Neinast has a continuing interest in using the Library in his preferred mode of dress.
6. On November 26, 2007, Neinast was issued a library card for the Fairfield County District Library while visiting it barefoot. He subsequently used the Library barefooted two more times without comment. There are no signs on the doors of the Library requiring footwear.
7. On April 23, 2008, during another visit to the Library, Neinast was told that the Library had a footwear policy and that he had to leave. He did so.
8. The Library Code of Conduct, enacted by the Board, contains an entry that says, "Shirt and shoes must be worn in any library facility. If a child has learned to walk, the child must wear shoes."
9. On April 24, 2008, Neinast wrote to Ms. Steiner requesting that the footwear policy be removed. He provided information on the safety of bare feet and the disadvantages of shoes, and offered to provide more extensive information.
10. On May 20, 2008, at a regular meeting, the Board considered Neinast's request and decided to keep its footwear policy. After Neinast then wrote a letter to Ms. Steiner asking about giving a presentation to the Board and asking for the reason given for retaining the policy, Ms. Steiner, in a June 16, 2008 letter, responded by describing the public participation portion of their Board meetings, and stated that the Board had retained the policy to provide "the proper decorum for our organization."
11. On October 21, 2008, Neinast gave a presentation to the Board, with extensive handouts, detailing why bare feet were unrelated to decorum, noting that bans against bare feet are a relatively recent historical occurrence, and listing other libraries that Neinast has used that have no such footwear policy. Neinast also included in his presentation information (with copies of supporting scientific studies in his handouts) showing the damage that shoes do to feet, including the particular damage done by high heels, and showing the relative safety of bare feet.
12. In a December 1, 2008 email, Ms. Steiner informed Neinast that the Board now had concerns about safety issues, not just decorum. In response, Neinast emailed back to Ms. Steiner an essay demonstrating that bare feet presented no valid safety issues. This essay cited sixteen supporting scientific articles. Neinast also included a list of injury lawsuits in which footwear was implicated or blamed as the cause of the injury.
13. On February 17, 2009, the Board officially decided to retain the Library's footwear policy.
14. There is no Health Code or Health Department regulation requiring footwear in public buildings.
15. The Library, under the Ohio Revised Code Section 2744.02, is statutorily immune from liability regarding injuries on its property except for those caused by "physical defects within or on the grounds of" the library.
16. The enforcement of a dress code against a non-disruptive mode of dress is not related to the proper management and operation of the Library.
17. The footwear rule arbitrarily, capriciously, and unreasonably singles out bare feet as a hazardous footwear condition.
18. The footwear rule violates Mr. Neinast's personal liberty guaranteed under the Ohio Constitution.
19. Neinast has been injured by the denial of his right to use the Library, and absent this Court's intervention, Neinast will continue to be injured by the denial of his right to use the Library.
WHEREFORE, Plaintiff Robert A. Neinast respectfully requests that this Court grant him judgment as follows:
A. Declare that the Board does not have the statutory authority under the law to make regulations requiring that patrons wear shoes in the Library.
B. Declare that the footwear rule infringes upon Mr. Neinast's personal liberty, is arbitrary and capricious, and does not bear a real and substantial relation to the health, safety, morals or general welfare of the public.
C. Issue a permanent injunction preventing the Board of Trustees, the Director, or any other Library employee from enforcing any rule or regulation specifying that footwear must be worn in the Fairfield County District Library.
D. Award Plaintiff any other legal and equitable relief to which he is entitled.
Robert A. Neinast
Plaintiff, PRO SE
8617 Ashford Lane
Pickerington, OH 43147
Phone: (614) 759-1601