The City of Ann Arbor reopened its public nuisance lawsuit against Dream Niteclub — formerly known as Studio 4 — on Thursday, following a May 29 altercation that resulted in several assaults, including a 22-year-old man being shot in the forearm.
The lawsuit called on the Washtenaw County Circuit Court to “enjoin Dream Niteclub to permanently close” and mandate the club from operating until the trial resumes Wednesday. The suit follows two previous public nuisance complaints filed against Dream Niteclub in Sept. 2009 and Feb. 2010, after the city claimed the club failed to stop incidents of violence. More recently, on May 1, a man injured three other patrons in a fight.
City Attorney Stephen Postema wrote in the lawsuit that the owners of the club are creating an environment that is dangerous to the surrounding community.
“It has become abundantly clear with the most recent incidents on May 1, 2011, and May
29, 2011 … that Defendants cannot be trusted to operate Dream Niteclub/Studio 4 in a manner that does not threaten the public to the point of death or serious injury,” Postema wrote.
Postema also alleged that Jeff and Vickash Mangray, who have run the club since September 2007, are unable to manage the club’s unruly clientele.
“In addition to these potentially deadly incidents, there is a lengthy history of problems requiring police response, establishing a clear pattern and practice of dangerously inept management of the business,” Postema wrote.
Ann Arbor Mayor John Hieftje said in an interview with The Michigan Daily he would like to see the club closed and the space utilized in a more positive manner.
“There used to be a very popular restaurant there called Maude’s quite a few years ago,” he said. “There’s a lot of great uses for that site, a lot of good restaurants.”
Hieftje added that closing the club will help Ann Arbor remain a safer city.
“Ann Arbor is a very safe city,” Hieftje added. “Compare our crime rate with other cities of our size and we’re very safe, and we want to keep it that way.”
While Hieftje said he views the case as abating a nuisance that threatens the safety of the community, David Shand, the attorney representing the Dream Niteclub, questioned the city’s motives in bringing a suit against the club and leaving various employees jobless.
“I understand what the city is trying to do — they’re trying to pull out a parade of horribles in order to justify shutting down the company’s business and costing them hundreds of thousands of dollars and making … twelve employees unemployed,” Shand said.
In addition to financially troubling the club, Shand said the list of transgressions the city charged against Dream Niteclub holds the owners accountable for wrongdoings that they could not have controlled, specifically citing the shooting on May 29 that took place in the United States Postal Service’s parking lot next door to the club.
He added that the Sept. 12, 2009 incident didn’t take place on the club’s premises either, but rather in a parking garage owned by the city.
Yet despite the disparities in viewpoints on the case, Shand said he is hoping that the incident will offer the opportunity to bridge some of the miscommunication between the club and city officials.
“I’m hoping if the city can identify specific things that they’re uncomfortable with and they would like my clients to change as far as operating their business and it’s reasonable … that we can work out something in between putting my clients out of business and winning the case outright,” he said. “I would hope that there is some middle ground.”