Alibi Drinkery, the Lakeville bar and restaurant that has opened in defiance of Gov. Tim Walz’s statewide ban on indoor food and drink service, was found in contempt Jan. 5 in Dakota County District Court for willfully violating a Dec. 31 temporary injunction that required it to close for indoor dining through Jan. 10.
The court ordered Alibi to pay a fine of $3,000 per day each day that it is open for indoor dining in violation of the executive orders and temporary injunction. In imposing a fine for civil contempt higher than that authorized in Minnesota law, the court noted that “a minimal fine would not lead to compliance with the injunction and would likely result in further spread of COVID-19.”
The court found that there was preponderance of evidence that the bar intentionally and purposefully disobeyed and violated the court’s order, according to a release from Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison’s office, which filed on Dec. 17 a lawsuit against Alibi after it opened for indoor food and drink service Dec. 16 along with several other businesses as part of the Reopen Minnesota Coalition effort.
“I am grateful that the court recognized the severity of the pandemic and the harm that Alibi’s flagrant violation of the law is causing Minnesotans,” Ellison said. “I take no joy in seeking sanctions, but I will not shirk from my responsibility to uphold the law and the governor’s executive orders in order to save Minnesotans’ lives, particularly in the face willful and repeated violations.”
Alibi Drinkery and Lionheart LCC attorney Michael Padden told WCCO news after the ruling: “My client will continue to vigorously litigate the state’s attempt to secure a permanent injunction, and we will appeal the court’s orders, orders that are the result of false, misleading data submitted by the state, data we look forward to further scrutinizing in the litigation process.”
In its action today, the court denied Alibi’s motion to rescind its temporary injunction.
Alibi Drinkery, co-owner Lisa Zarza, posted on her Facebook page: “This is not about a bar not being able to be opened. This is about the systematic stripping of our rights. I have been attacked for comments I have made. I apologize if people perceived what I said in a negative light. But Americans need to wake up.”
The court said that the health and welfare of the public are at risk and are being irreparably harmed by Alibi’s behavior. The court said that Alibi “is fully aware of these restrictions and is flagrantly in violation of the orders.”
In a Jan. 5 hearing, Ellison’s office said that Alibi’s owner admitted in court that Alibi had continued to provide indoor on-premises dining through the New Year’s weekend in violation of Walz’s executive orders and in defiance of the court’s temporary injunction.
Ellison’s office stated that the court and executive orders were issued for several purposes, including preventing the spread of the COVID-19 virus, to protect the capacity of health care system and hospitals. The increased hospitalizations due to the virus place an extra burden on hospitals and emergency rooms such that hospitals may not be able to provide care for other, non-COVID emergency health needs.