A group of strip club owners grouped together this week to file a lawsuit in Jefferson Circuit Court against local police and the department of Alcohol Beverage Control after agents raided their offices on multiple occasions, damaged property, and allegedly harassed and searched employees and customers.
The raids come right on the heels of a legal storm that has been brewing between state and local law enforcement and adult business owners after Metro Mayor Jerry Abramson signed a new adult entertainment ordinance earlier this month that imposes strict limitations on strip club owners, their dancers and customers, and even how they construct their clubs.
The new ordinance also forces strip clubs and adult bookstores to close at 1 a.m., and prohibits adult businesses from obtaining new alcohol beverage licenses after the current one expires.
The lawsuit is one of many that adult entertainment business owners have filed against the city and state over ordinances that have sought to block or prohibit their places of business.
The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Thorobred Lounge and five of its clubs, including a liquor store called By-Pass Liquors, and names Metro Police Chief Robert White and Bill Schreck, director of the metro Department of Inspections, Permits and Licenses, as defendants, the Courier-Journal reports.
The lawsuit asks that two state laws and metro alcohol regulations be declared unconstitutional because the searches were "unwarranted." The strip club owners are also asking for damages.
But critics of the lawsuit say that the adult businesses are taking aim at legitimate laws that have been in place for decades that allow ABC to conduct random searches of businesses in the event of alcohol license violations.
The plaintiffs also argue that the recent searches of their businesses violated a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that protects businesses like bars and clubs from being "closely regulated" by the government because of the nature of the business.
The attorney representing the plaintiffs told the Courier-Journal that he expects several more adult entertainment establishments to join the lawsuit.