Appeals court reverses Key West tattoo shop ruling

Author: the associated press
Published: Updated:
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KEY WEST, Fla. (AP) – A Virginia man who wants to open up a tattoo parlor in Key West can thank Jimmy Buffett’s “Margaritaville” for helping him with his latest court case.

City officials twice referenced the song in opposition to Brad Buehrle’s proposal for a new tattoo shop, saying drunken tourists would be more likely to get tattoos and then regret it if more ink shops were open in Key West’s historic district.

But the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals said the city misunderstood the song lyrics in which the languorous narrator reflects on a brand new tattoo – but how the “Mexican cutie” got there, “I haven’t a clue.”

The judges wrote in a footnote to their ruling that the character in the song deems his new tattoo “a real beauty” and seems far from embarrassed about it.

The appeals court ruled last week that the city failed to show that more tattoo shops would erode the historic district’s “character and fabric,” The Key West Citizen ( reported.

According to the ruling, the city feared that “rash tourists will obtain regrettable tattoos, leading to negative association with Key West.”

Tattoo parlors were banned within Key West city limits until 2007, when the city amended zoning rules to allow a limited number of them. Currently, two tattoo shops operate there and “the city concedes the absence of any ill effect as a result” of them, according to the ruling.

Buehrle, who operates a tattoo shop in Richmond, Virginia, had asked the city to issue a permit allowing him to open another business in a historic stretch of Duval Street.

Buehrle’s attorney, Wayne LaRue Smith, said that he “doesn’t believe for a minute that there’s any adverse effects” remotely possible.

The appeals court sent the case back to district court for more proceedings consistent with its opinion.

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