The owner of Le Boy Bar in Fort Lauderdale, Sean David, has followed through on his threat to sue the City of Wilton Manors for interfering with the opening of his gay bar, Ballz, in January of 2017.
The suit alleges that Roberta Moore, the Director of Community Development for Wilton Manors, warned the plaintiff that “Wilton Manors did not want a go-go bar on Wilton Drive.”
According to the complaint, filed by attorney George Castrataro, David was told by Moore “Do not try to put a male go-go bar on Wilton Drive. It will get shut down.”
Castrataro further alleged that the Defendant intentionally made it “very difficult” for David to open his club, “delaying a straightforward permitting process for over four months.”
Castrataro said “I believe Wilton Manors was out to harm my client from the outset, and caused him to sustain damages by increasing the costs of opening his business and dragging out the approval process unreasonably long in bad faith.”
David said that when he finally got open, he was met almost immediately by police who harassed him every day for “four months straight.”
The complaint also accuses the police of unlawfully conducting sham warrantless inspections that purposely interfered with the bar’s business operations.
As an example, David said the city routinely allowed police and fire vehicles to park in front of his building with their lights flashing, usually during the bar’s peak hours of business.
“Nearly every customer expressed a belief that the business was being harassed,” the lawsuit alleges.
Castrataro said it was part of an orchestrated plan to “drive away customers for the sole purpose of forcing the Plaintiff out of business.”
Ballz closed three months after it opened. The facility on Wilton Drive, once the home of the popular Sidelines Bar, has now reopened as Pint, featuring video games and a full liquor bar. It is busy daily.
The city has 20 days to answer the lawsuit, but city representatives are not expected to comment. They are generally prohibited from speaking to the press until their counsel has had an opportunity to review the complaint and reply to its allegations.
In the meantime, David is seeking compensatory damages, attorney’s fees, and a declaration by the United States District Court that the city’s actions last year were illegal. He claims they violated his First Amendment rights, along with the Due process and equal protection clauses of the United States Constitution.