Champions lawsuit alleging systemic city racism against "black bars" likely died with business
With the bar and its lawsuit going the way of the dodo, this might be the last time we write about Champions.
In 2012, Champions Sports Bar and Grill, a Lake and Nicollet dive, filed suit against the city of Minneapolis alleging officials, motivated by a desire to drive "establishments which cater to the African American community" out of business, had been unlawfully harassing the bar and its ownership for the better part of two years.
The city was in the habit of "violating the due process rights of establishments which cater to the African American community by attempting to impose unnecessary liquor license conditions on those establishments in an attempt to drive those establishments out of business," the lawsuit, which sought hundreds of thousands of dollars from the city for retaliation, defamation, malicious prosecution, abuse of process, and violation of due process, among other claims, said.
A year and a half and at least one fatal shooting later, the city succeeded in stripping Champions' liquor license on March 7. Less than two weeks later the bar was closed.
We recently told you about how Champions' account of the aforementioned shooting -- that a man smuggled a gun into the place with his prosthetic leg despite despite the bar's rigorous security -- was BS, at least according to a public defender who represented the man convicted of murder in connection with that incident. That got us thinking about the status of the bar's lawsuit.
We contacted city officials for an update, and yesterday we heard back.
Turns out our inquiry was quite timely, as it sounds as though the plug was finally pulled on the litigation on August 1.
From the Minneapolis City Attorney's office:
In essence, the owner of Champions has filed for bankruptcy protection and a trustee has been appointed to manage any potential assets (including pending litigation). Also, because the attorney for Mr. Nelson and Champions has a potential claim for legal fees owed to him by his client he filed a motion to withdraw as the attorney in the lawsuit. The federal court judge granted the attorney's motion to withdraw in the attached Order dated July 8th and also ordered the bankruptcy trustee to notify the court by August 1st of its intent to proceed with new counsel. In a response filed July 31st and also attached to this email the bankruptcy trustee notified the court that he would not be pursuing the lawsuit. At this juncture, the city anticipates that the lawsuit will be dismissed in accord with the judge's Order, although that final formal step has not yet occurred.
Additionally, with regard to the underlying adverse license action related to this matter, the Minneapolis City Council, based on a recommendation from the Administrative Law Judge who heard the case, unanimously voted to deny renewal of Champions' liquor license at its March 7th meeting. That action resulted in the closure of Champions effective March 16th. Despite Champions stated intent to appeal that action to the Minnesota Court of Appeals, no appeal was filed and the matter is completed.
Long story short, the lawsuit died with the business.
Champions' (former) counsel didn't return messages seeking comment.
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