A federal court judge Friday dismissed a complaint filed against the city of Walthourville by Bo’Maz nightclub owners Bobby and Mazie Fabain because of the recent repeal of an amended city ordinance.
The Fabains sought a preliminary injunction to stop the enforcement of the June 12 decision by the Walthourville City Council to revise the city’s alcoholic beverage ordinance to restrict the hours and days businesses “other than grocery and convenience type stores” could sell and serve alcohol.
Under the new regulations, establishments such as Bo’Maz could not sell or serve alcohol in Walthourville after 2:55 a.m. Monday through Friday or after midnight on Saturday. No alcohol sales are permitted before 8 a.m. on any day of the week and on Sunday.
The new rules were a result of a show-cause hearing between club owners and city officials to decide whether to close Bo’Maz for 30 days, following an incident in May when more than 10 gunshots were fired in the nightclub’s parking lot as patrons departed.
Although the amendment allowed the club to remain open, the couple contended the changes drastically changed their financial outlook and unfairly violated “their constitutional rights to due process and equal protection,” according to court documents.
City officials and the Fabains met in federal court Aug. 8 for a preliminary hearing on the ordinance change and on Sept. 11, city council members voted unanimously to rescind the amendment. The rule reversal re-instituted the selling and serving of alcohol until 2:55 a.m. Monday through Sunday morning and from 12:30 p.m. Sunday afternoon until midnight.
“Because the challenged ordinances are no longer in effect,” U.S. District Court Chief Judge William T. Moore, Jr. wrote in a two-page ruling, “(the Fabains’) request for a preliminary injunction is denied as moot.”
The judge also denied the owners’ “claim for damages as a result of the city’s actions” because it was “a separate issue.” But he left the opportunity open for the Fabains to file a complaint specifically for damages in the future.
Calls for comment on the case from Fabains’ attorney Kimberly Copeland were not returned.
But the court decision was just one of two new chapters added to the ongoing battle between Walthourville officials and Bo’Maz owners on Friday.
As Judge Moore was signing his ruling, city council members voted unanimously to revoke the Fabains’ Sunday alcohol sales license during a show-cause hearing boycotted by Copeland and her clients.