No ruling yet from judge on closing Madsen’s
LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - On Wednesday, a Lancaster County District Judge heard arguments from the City and from an attorney for Madsen’s Bowling & Billiards in the motion for a temporary injunction to close Madsen’s until they follow the current Directed Health Measure.
Judge John A. Colborn heard the motion at 3 p.m. on Wednesday. He didn’t make a ruling but pressed the City on why they didn’t simply have the Lincoln Police Department or Lancaster County Sheriff’s Department either force the business to close or prevent people from entering the business, as is allowed by the order. Assistant City Attorney Chris Connelly said they chose to seek an injunction instead, saying similar cases would likely eventually end up before the court. “If we charge it as a crime, the business would continue to operate, pay a fine, probably wouldn’t go to jail but even if they paid a fine it doesn’t solve the problem we’re looking for, which is trying to stop the spread of the disease,” said Connelly.
This comes after the business refused to close after receiving a Health Order to do so on Saturday, as the business hosted a pool tournament. At the time, general manager Ben Madsen told a 10/11 NOW reporter, he was willing to go to jail rather than comply with the order.
Assistant City Attorney Chris Connolly argued that if there was a problem with the food at Madsen’s and they didn’t correct the problem, they would do the same thing, adding the rules they have in place are required to protect the public. They said have “no other choice” than to seek closure of the business.
Connolly said efforts were made to gain compliance and that if the business had made efforts to comply, “we wouldn’t be here today”.
Madsen’s attorney J.L. Spray questioned the legitimacy of Interim Health Director Pat Lopez, saying she was not elected to serve in that role and that the proper procedures weren’t followed to appoint her to the role. “It doesn’t appear to me from her contract that she’s being paid by the health board or that she’s an employee of the health board, now we have an unelected, very powerful, total control over what she can do, person,” said Spray. Lopez was appointed to the position by Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird in May 2019, as previous Health Director Shavonna Lausterer battled cancer.
Judge Colborn ended the hearing saying he will make a decision as promptly as possible.
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