A pair of former barkeepers has filed a $3 million federal lawsuit against the city of St. George after the closure of their club in 1993.
The bar managers of Chapter Eleven tavern and private club say the St. George City Council's refusal to issue a business license caused them "substantial economic injury."The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Salt Lake City, also contends the city attorney's office had a vendetta against the club.
Before it was closed in late 1993, the bar was one of just two taverns in the southern Utah city of 29,000 people. The other was the Elks Club, where only lodge members were allowed.
The suit by Chapter Eleven follows a dispute with the city over the quality of the club's fire-suppression system. On Aug. 2, 1993, 5th District Judge James Shumate granted a restraining order barring the City Council from taking any action against the tavern.
Chapter Eleven's attorney, former Kane County prosecutor Jim Scarth, was directed by Shumate to draw up the order restricting the city from taking any action against the bar's business or beer licenses.
But the suit says that then St. George's city attorney Theodore Shumway prepared a separate order and placed Scarth's name on the caption heading.
The new order allowed the City Council to revoke Chapter Eleven's licenses, rather than block the council from taking action.
According to the suit, Shumway submitted that version of the restraining order to the judge for a signature without notifying the judge of the changes he had made. On Aug. 5, 1993, the St. George City Council took Shumway's advice and revoked the beer and business licenses used by Chapter Eleven.
The club was not notified of the action and as a result James A. Tanasse, who opened the club, was charged Aug. 11 with selling beer without a license, a misdemeanor conviction that was later overturned. The suit says a deputy city attorney threatened Tanasse during a court hearing on the misdemeanor charge.
"This time I will put you out of business," the official said, according to the suit. "And this time we will do it right."
The case has been assigned to U.S. District Judge David Sam.