LINCOLN — An attorney for the City of Omaha is calling a new federal lawsuit filed by the owner of a central Omaha strip club that features nude dancers “a clear case of much ado about nothing.”
Michelle Peters, a deputy city attorney, said in a motion filed Monday that the $15 million civil rights lawsuit filed last week by Shane Harrington should be dismissed because the city’s new bottle club ordinance doesn’t apply to his Club Omaha. That’s because the members-only nightclub no longer allows alcohol to be brought into the facility, Peters stated, thus it’s no longer a “bottle club” that would be regulated by the new bottle club rules.
The city attorney also said there was no truth to claims by Harrington that Omaha police had illegally entered his club or had “chased” his scantily clad dancers away from 72nd and Dodge Streets as they protested along the busy intersection last month.
“None of the actions (Harrington) are complaining of have come to fruition and their speculation that the City of Omaha or the Omaha Police Department are ‘out to get them’ have no basis in reality,” Peters wrote.
U.S. District Judge Laurie Smith Camp, after a one-hour hearing Monday, took Harrington’s request for an injunction against the new city ordinance and new state bottle club laws under advisement.
Omaha city ordinance bans nude dancing in liquor establishments, but Harrington’s club fell outside the ban because it wasn’t a licensed liquor outlet. It had operated as a bottle club that allowed members to bring their own booze. Harrington said he changed the operation to no-alcohol last month after both the state and city passed new rules governing bottle clubs, rules that he claims have reduced his business by 15 to 20 percent.
In a press release Monday, Harrington claimed victory in round one of his lawsuit, saying that city officials had acknowledged that his dancers were not violating any city laws when they protested in public in skimpy outfits. Peters, the deputy city attorney, said that city officials had made that clear to Harrington back in July.