LAKEVILLE, Minn. — A Lakeville bar continues to thumb its nose at the state by remaining open even as the effort to shut them down plays out in court.
A show-cause hearing was held Tuesday, Jan. 5, in front of Dakota County District Judge Jerome Abrams over whether Alibi Drinkery, located in the city’s historic downtown area, is in contempt of court. It follows Abrams’ decision to hand down a temporary injunction on New Year’s Eve the same day the bar opened back up after complying for nine days with a Dec. 17 lawsuit filed by the state's attorney’s office to remain closed for indoor, on-premises dining through Jan. 10.
Alibi’s noncompliance with the temporary injunction order could result in its liquor license being revoked by the Minnesota Department of Public Safety.
Meanwhile, Alibi has continued to serve patrons food and drinks every day since reopening Dec. 31.
At Tuesday’s hearing, Mike Padden, an attorney representing Alibi co-owner Lisa Monet Zarza, asked Abrams to rescind the temporary injunction “based in large part on false COVID-19 death data” that he claims the state attorney’s office submitted to the court to secure the lawsuit.
To argue his point, Padden in his court memo uses recent claims by state Rep. Mary Franson, R-Alexandria, and former Sen. Scott Jensen, R-Chaska, that state agencies are overstating COVID deaths.
On Wednesday, Minnesota Department of Health spokesman Doug Schultz said the agency would not comment on the claims.
“We don’t comment on ongoing legal proceedings,” he said in an email.
The state’s attorneys did ask Abrams for an order allowing the state to respond to the claims that death numbers are skewed.
Padden also asked the court to not further sanction Alibi and listed “mitigating factors” to support the request. According to Padden, they include that Alibi is in a “financial freefall” because of lost revenue; that Minnesota has more COVID cases than neighboring Wisconsin, where bars and restaurants are open; and that there is “zero evidence that anyone has contracted COVID-19 in Alibi.”
“Perhaps an ultimatum should be contemplated,” he wrote in his court memo.
Padden also highlighted how Alibi was vandalized with graffiti over the weekend and for the owner to “cave in and close could be perceived as a victory for the criminals who defaced her building,” he wrote.
According to Lakeville police, no arrests have been made in the graffiti case, which remains under investigation.
Abrams has yet to issue orders following Tuesday’s hearing.