A federal judge and jury are scheduled to hear arguments next month that should put an end to a several-year dispute between the city of Davenport and the owner of Chorus Line strip club.

The case so far has cost the city more than $80,000 in legal fees, records show, which does not include the in-house legal representation the city used during hearings in state court.

In the latest ruling, a federal judge said the city of Davenport and co-defendant Craig Malin, city administrator, violated the club owner’s due-process rights when the city refused to allow the cabaret to continue operating after a new owner took over in 2009. In his Aug. 2 ruling, Judge Robert W. Pratt said the city is liable for damages, or loss of profits, incurred during the yearlong closure of Chorus Line.

A jury is expected to hear arguments in the case, beginning Sept. 16, and possibly award damages to the cabaret owner.

Among other rulings related to the case, Pratt said he will use the five days set aside for the case to rule on whether the city committed civil contempt by failing to comply with a consent decree that granted Chorus Line the right to operate in the first place. The 2004 consent decree gave the cabaret the right to legally operate, even if it switched ownership. The business did, in fact, change ownership, but city officials said the license had been transferred to a neighboring adult business, and Chorus Line was forced to close.

The neighboring business, Dr. John’s Lingerie, however, was operating on a retail license, not an adult-business license.

If the city and Malin are found in contempt, the judge could issue sanctions ranging from a fine to a simple admonishment.

Also in September, Pratt must determine the amount in attorney fees owed Chorus Line by the city. Records show the city has been billed $80,971 by Davenport law firm Lane & Waterman for representation during the federal case that began two years ago.

The Chorus Line’s attorney, Mike Meloy, said he is working on a set of figures to present in court, regarding the losses his client will claim for the period in which the cabaret license was withheld.

He said the Chorus Line’s biggest victory in the recent rulings is the judge’s finding that the city violated the strip-club owner’s right to due process, declaring the city legally liable for any damages.

“The ruling eliminates that issue at trial,” Meloy said. “In September, we’ll go right to the amount of damages.”

The city’s attorney, Rand Wonio, said his clients were pleased with parts of Pratt’s ruling and may appeal others.

“The city strongly contests C. Line’s lost-profit claims,” he said of possible damage-amount claims. “A certified public accountant has audited C. Line’s business records and found that there was missing information, especially expenses and sales tax payment records.”

Asked how much his client lost in profits, Meloy said, “We’re working on that right now.”

(7) comments

Contemptio

Would anyone object if the Davenport Police beat him like a shoplifter! LOL

joki

YOUR FIRED! without the parachute

PainfullTruth

I love it! Craig Malin had a vendetta against Chorus Line the whole time. He knew that the Chorus Line had a cabaret license and that the other shop had a retail license, but that didn't stop him. He has cost the city + $80k in legal fees and growing. Now they will have to pay for losses incurred by Chorus Line while they were closed. Regardless of what that amount is, it is more money that the city will be losing. Add in the tax revenue that they didn't get during that time and you will be seeing amounts well over $200k. All because Malin is both incompetent and ignorant of facts.

Demand better citizens of Davenport.

snowman05

Someone in the city just needs to treat him like an employee of the people and not a king.

Crusader

Dr. John's is not your ordinary retail, never was, never will be. It is and always has been a sexually-oriented business. The council policy is that sexually oriented businesses must be 500 feet apart. Dr. John's and the Chorus Line are not 500 feet apart. The council, the other businesses in the area wanted the ordinance enforced. The Chorus Line had closed. The judge is wrong. It should not be "grandfathered" in because it did close. Malin was doing what the council directed him to do. Meloy was doing what he does, ambulance chasing and serving the scum from the bottom of my shoe.

zetar

Unfortunately, this is about the size of it: Malin was doing what the council wanted him to do and Meloy, well...

snowman05

At least there is an itemized detail of what Craig cost Davenport this time!

Another job well done!

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