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Court denies motion for injunction against Madsen’s, says City has power to force closure

Madsen's Billards
Madsen's Billards(Abbie Petersen)
Published: Aug. 6, 2020 at 4:02 PM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - A Lancaster County District Court Judge denied a motion by the City of Lincoln to issue an injunction to close Madsen’s Billiards and Bowling, saying the City has the power to use law enforcement to enforce the Directed Health Measure and close the business, without requiring an injunction.

“Under the ordinances, the Health Director has the power to order Madsen Bowling to close. And such order shall be enforced by the city and county law enforcement agencies,” the ruling from Judge John A. Colborn reads. “Given the Health Director’s powers, the Court is unsure why it is being asked to order the closure.”

The City filed the motion after they argued Madsen’s had refused to comply with the DHM by allowing employees to serve patrons without masks and failing to enforce distancing rules under the City’s DHM. An attorney for Madsen’s argued that the City’s Interim Health Director wasn’t properly appointed to her role, and didn’t have the power to issue a DHM.

“The Court does not decide, however, whether the Director Health Measures 2020-07 (the “DHM”) is valid,” the ruling reads. “Instead, accepting the City’s allegations that the DHM is enforceable as true, the Court concludes that the City is not entitled to injunctive relief because it has an adequate remedy at law.” The judge made a similar statement in court Wednesday, telling the City that the DHM can be enforced by Lincoln Police or the Lancaster County Sheriff’s Department, and doesn’t require a court injunction.

Madsen’s had continued to operate over the weekend, despite receiving an order to close Saturday for violations of the DHM. The City argued closing the business was necessary to protect the citizens of Lincoln from the spread of COVID-19.

Thursday afternoon, Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department Health Director Pat Lopez released the following statement:

“If violations continue to be observed at Madsen’s, the Health Department will issue an order for the business to close and to remain closed until Madsen’s submits a plan to comply with the Directed Health Measure and that plan is approved by the Health Department.”

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