Eagle settles discrimation suit
EAGLE , Colorado ” An eleventh hour settlement between the town and the former owners of El Tejano nightclub has averted a federal discrimination trial slated to begin this week.
The tentative settlement was reached late Friday and the jury trial in U.S. District Court in Denver was canceled.
Eagle Town Manager Willy Powell said the town’s general liability insurance carrier ” Colorado Intergovernmental Risk Sharing Agency ” opted to settle the case last week prior to trial. The town and the plaintiffs have tentatively agreed to the settlement, but final documents have not yet been signed and details of the agreement have not been released.
The lawsuit related to the town’s 2002 revocation of the liquor license for the now defunct El Tejano nightclub.
The federal civil rights lawsuit was filed in November 2006 by El Tejano owners, brother and sister Mary and Steve Rodriguez.
The Rodriguezes sought unspecified damages against the town, claiming their license revocation was racially motivated because of their Hispanic background and the predominately Hispanic clientele at the bar.
The brother and sister originally obtained a liquor license for the establishment in August 2001. When the license was up for renewal in August 2002, the Eagle Town Board revoked the license. During the renewal hearing, members of the Eagle Police Department testified about incidents of over-serving alcohol and of alcohol being served to minors at the bar.
Additionally, a female patron testified that she was over-served and subsequently she performed a striptease for tips at the bar.
The Rodriguez lawsuit claimed the town’s action was unduly harsh and different from the disciplinary action imposed on what the plaintiffs characterize as an “Anglo bar” in town. The complaint notes that when the Brush Creek Saloon’s license was brought up for renewal and liquor law violations were noted, the board suspended the license rather than revoking it.
In addition to the complaints related to alleged differences in treatment of license renewals, the Rodriguezes claimed their establishment was the victim of a harassment campaign by local police officers. In particular, they cited officers parked in the parking lot to observe El Tejano’s patrons; and frequent unannounced walk-throughs of the tavern.