Several Nightclubs Quit Potential Suit vs. Cops, Alcohol Regulators

Categories: Law & Order


In this week's cover story, SF Weekly reported on complaints surrounding nightlife enforcement in SOMA, and an attorney, Mark Webb, who was gathering a group of nightclub owners to sue the city and state for racketeering.

Since the article went to press, though, three of the most well-established venues that had been in talks about filing a claim have backed away.

Webb's plan is to use  RICO, a statute originally designed for prosecuting the mafia, to sue the San Francisco Police Department and the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) for acting like gangsters, he said.

Dawn Holliday, co-owner of Slim's and Great American Music Hall, decided on Monday that her venues would not participate in a claim against the ABC, according to William White, an assistant manager at the two venues.

Slim's has a hearing coming up on April 1 in front of the ABC's administrative appeals board, White said. The club is appealing an accusation about a noise violation.

"It's not a good time for us to participate in a claim along these lines," he told SF Weekly

Great American Music Hall and Slim's went public with complaints about their costly legal battles with the ABC almost a year ago -- but White emphasized that the venues had not had any problems with the SFPD.

Once those two venues decided they would not be participating , DNA Lounge, Slim's neighbor on 11th Street, was out as well, according to DNA general manager Barry Synoground.

"We've changed our mind," Synoground told SF Weekly."We will be as involved as Slim's and Great American Music Hall are. We want to make sure we are working as a community and not as individuals."

Webb said the RICO claim would be going forward regardless. "The article has already produced one more interested club, and I expect and hope that in the coming days it will produce more," he said.

Webb also took issue with the article noting his yoga prowess rather than his credentials, adding that he is also a graduate of Harvard College, was first in his law school class at Golden Gate University School of Law, and has more than three decades of experience as a trial attorney.

Webb does indeed have a track record of impressive awards and settlements. In 2001, the Chronicle reported, he won a $2.75 million settlement from the city of Oakland for his client, a woman who lost the ability to walk after an accident involving a police car. It was, at the time, the largest settlement in the city's history. In 1995, a jury awarded one of Webb's clients $3.4 million after he was injured because of a mountain bike malfunction.

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