A nearly 100-year old family-run animal attraction in South Florida, Monkey Jungle, recently filed for federal aid due to issues related to COVID. Since primates in the attraction can contract the highly contagious virus from humans, the company had to close its doors. With no revenue, and still maintaining a staff to care for hundreds of animals, Monkey Jungle is struggling to stay in business. So the company filed for a federal COVID relief grant designed to keep entertainment venues open. However, . . . The Small Business Administration rejected Monkey Jungle’s application for a $653,000 grant. In August, Monkey Jungle filed a federal lawsuit seeking to reverse that decision.

“We are aware of dozens of prior lawsuits filed against the SBA related to the denial of applications under the SVOG program, some of which make similar claims as those made in our lawsuit,” said Matthew Feinberg, a [Partner with PilieroMazza] . . . representing Monkey Jungle. “The SBA has agreed in some of those cases to revisit its prior SVOG decision, and we believe there are compelling reasons for the SBA to do so in our case.”

As of July, the SBA grant database reports 166 businesses in Miami-Dade County received funding—mostly comedy clubs, music venues and other more traditional live entertainment businesses. But Monkey Jungle’s lawsuit argues that circuses and rodeos elsewhere have also received funding.

The federal agency has not offered an explanation for denying the Monkey Jungle grant, Feinberg said. 

Excerpt taken from the article “Monkey Jungle’s Big Money Trouble: Attraction Sues for Federal Aid That Could Be Lifeline” by Natalia Galicza for Miami Herald. Visit this link to view the full article.

The Shuttered Venue Operators Grant (SVOG) program is a federal program that offered certain financial grant assistance to certain types of performing arts and entertainment companies impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.  Although the program is now closed to new applications, companies that were denied grants after submitting a timely-filed application may have remedies in federal court to obtain funds that may have been wrongly denied.

About Matt Feinberg

Matt has over a decade of experience in state and federal civil and appellate litigation, as well as in arbitration. As the Practice Group Chair for PilieroMazza’s Litigation & Dispute Resolution Group and Co-Chair of the Firm’s False Claims Act and Audits & Investigations Team, his advocacy for government contractors and commercial businesses on a wide range of topics, across many industries, gives Matt a unique perspective on successful litigation strategies for achieving the best possible outcome for clients. Visit this link to learn more.