Just days after Miami Beach’s city manager revoked the business license of Club Madonna, the strip club struck back with a lawsuit Tuesday, its lawyers said.
The nine-count complaint filed in federal court seeks an immediate injunction to get the club re-opened and monetary damages based on the club’s out-of-pocket losses, attorney Richard Wolfe said.
After authorities said last week that three people had been arrested on human trafficking charges after they forced a 13-year-old runaway girl to dance at the all-nude strip club, the establishment’s owner, Leroy Griffith, said that he had no idea the victim had been forced to dance there.
Miami Beach City Manager Jimmy L. Morales then pulled the license of the club, at 1527 Washington Ave., and the city said it would remain closed for six months while it is under investigation.
“Based on the gravity of recent allegations, the evidence collected and the owner’s admitted failure to have the required knowledge of what illegal activity occurs at Club Madonna, I have determined that this activity presents an actual threat to the public health, welfare and safety of the public,” Morales said.
On Tuesday, Wolfe said the club’s closure “was done in a punitive, vindictive manner.”
“They didn’t comply with their own requirements set forth in the city code. The city code requires them to determine that there’s an emergency that will cause a serious danger to the citizens of Miami Beach. That didn’t occur,” Wolfe said.
He maintained that what happened involving the 13-year-old girl was a one-time incident, if it occurred.
“But if this girl did dance, she danced, it’s an isolated instance, it’s not indicative of the manner in which this club has operated lawfully for 40 years, and proper safeguards have been put in place to make sure it would never happen again,” Wolfe said. “The city manager was overreaching in the manner in which he shut down the business with the stroke of a pen.”
City spokeswoman Nannette Rodriguez said the city stands by Morales’ comments from Friday. She also said that the city had not yet seen the lawsuit and could not comment on it.