INDIANAPOLIS — A group of Indianapolis bar and nightclub owners are suing the city of Indianapolis and the Marion County Public Health Department over restrictions imposed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The lawsuit seeks a preliminary and permanent injunction against the city, health department, as well as Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett and Dr. Virginia Caine, director of the Marion County Public Health Department, seeking to prevent them from enforcing any restrictions on the businesses. The lawsuit is also seeking unspecified costs and damages.
A spokesman for Hogsett said the city does not comment on pending litigation but issued the following statement:
"Mayor Hogsett fully supports the Marion County Public Health Department's leadership and ongoing health orders, which have slowed the spread of the virus in our city and continue to save lives."
Plaintiffs in the case include Tiki Bobs Cantina, Invy Nighclub, Coaches Tavern, Courtside Convenience, Joes Grill Castleton, The Whistle Stop Inn, That Place Bar & Grill, Taps and Dolls, After 6 Lounge, Jokers Comedy Club, 247 Sky Bar, Whiskey Business Lawrence, Whiskey Business Southport, Average Joe's Sports Pub, Rock Lobster, Mineshaft Saloon, Basey's Downtown, The Red room, Mickie's Pub, and Sports Page Lounge.
The business owners said the "stringent and inflexible business restrictions" have led to millions of dollars in losses over the past six months.
"What was once a thriving nightlife scene that revitalized the economic fortunes of the city and made Indianapolis one of the best convention destinations in America is now littered with boarded up windows, pop up tents and empty tables," the businesses said in a statement. "Forced business closures by the city, and then later, severe business restrictions more stringent than those put in place by the governor in his Back on Track Indiana plan, have put each of these owners and their families on the brink of financial ruin."
The business owners, in the lawsuit, argue that the county's own COVID-19 statistics show that deaths from the novel coronavirus have steadily declined since earlier in the year despite a reopening of many industries and a return to school of kids of all ages.
The lawsuit address public health orders that the businesses allege impose more strict restrictions on bars and night clubs in Marion County as opposed to the rest of the state, are more restrictive on bars that cater only to adults, outlaw seating that is adjacent to bars as opposed to tables, outlawing live entertainment, outlawing dancing and requiring businesses to close at midnight even though capacity restrictions are in place.