Thursday, December 18, 2008

Settlement Reached Concerning Raid at San Antonio Bar

Here's a reality check. If you own a quaint pub where philosophers gather in the evenings to discuss current events or the validity of different fiscal models in today's challenging economy while sipping scotch, you probably do not have to worry about law enforcement paying a surprise visit to your establishment. However, if your business is a place at which those who are drawn to gangs and drugs, and who occasionally participate in homicides in the name of the Mexican Mafia, choose to drink late into the night, the police may take a greater interest. Patrons who just happened upon the latter option looking for a good time were not pleased with the treatment they received from San Antonio cops and now they are receiving payment for their unhappiness.

The Wild Turkey Saloon was raided by police officers in April 2007 after weeks of escalating violence and other criminal activity. According to the lawsuit filed by some of the customers that night, the officers turned off the music, turned on the lights, and locked the doors. Everyone inside was detained for over an hour, and two women claim that they were strip-searched when they asked to use the bathroom. The female San Antonio cops who conducted the search insist that no clothing was removed and everything was done by the book.

Thirteen people, including the two women who made the accusations of the inappropriate search, filed charges against the San Antonio Police Department and the city after bar owners encouraged them to do so. The suit alleges that bar checks are unconstitutional and that the searches against female patrons went beyond reasonable action by the officers. We will never know how the federal court would have ruled in this matter, as the city agreed to a settlement of $450,000 to be split among the patrons. City Attorney Michael Bernard admitted no wrongdoing, but wanted to avoid the "expense and uncertainties of litigation".

Are you an upstanding owner of a business whose good name has been tarnished simply because some violent gang members enjoy your food and beverage selection? At Bertolino LLP, we have attorneys who specialize in business litigation who can assist you with any legal problems you may be facing. Please contact our Austin, Houston, or San Antonio office today and let's discuss how we can help you.

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