Hustler Club fights bar over use of alley

Alejandro de los Rios Sep. 3, 2010, 6:57am

Larry Flynt's Hustler Club in the French Quarter is claiming that its neighbor, the Utopia Night Club, is threatening to closed down a fire alley in between the two buildings, thus forcing the city of New Orleans to revoke the strip club's license, according to documents filed in Orleans Parish Civil District Court.

Attorneys for H.D.V. No. 1 LLC, which owns the property at 225 Bourbon Street where the Hustler Club is located, filed a suit for declaratory judgment and injunctive relief on Aug. 20, seeking a restraining order against 227 Bourbon St. Inc. and the city.

At issue is a fire exit at the Hustler Club, which opens to an alley adjacent to Utopia. Plaintiffs claim that Utopia's owner, Kishore Motwani, has threatened the owners of the Hustler Club with closing the fire exit that leads into the alleyway and thus putting the Hustler Club in direct violation of New Orleans fire codes.

The suit also claims that the city of New Orleans, through the Office of Safety and Permits, has threatened to revoke Hustler Club's liquor license. Plaintiffs claim that revoking the license "would be an arbitrary and capricious action which ignores the established due process."

Plaintiffs also claim any revoking of the liquor license is a "violation of the consent judgment entered into on April 30, 2001," but the listed exhibit with the ruling was missing from the suit filed. Records from that suit could not be located before the clerk's office closed on Thursday.

Orleans Parish Judge Sidney Cade signed a restraining order the day the suit was filed, preventing the city or 227 Bourbon St. from taking any action that would affect the alley in question.

The fire exit and alley has been the subject of three previous suits dating back to 1993. In all cases, judges ruled in favor of granting 225 Bourbon St. access to the alleyway adjacent to 227 Bourbon St. in the event of a fire or emergency. The plaintiffs assert that they have never needed to use the alleyway, but that 227 Bourbon St. has nonetheless placed garbage cans and other obstacles in the alley.

The plaintiffs claimed that Motwani "has used or is using 227 Bourbon Street, Inc. as his alter ego, ignoring corporate formalities an that he is acting without appropriate corporate authorization." Plaintiffs also claim that Motwani tried to charge "$540,000 and $5,000 per month" to provide access to the alley.

A hearing has been set for Sept. 7. Plaintiffs seek to have their fire exit labeled as private property and granted access to the alley in accordance with city fire codes.

Gretna attorney Peter Fanning and New Orleans attorney Gilbert Buras Jr. are representing H.D.V.

New Orleans attorneys William Wessel and Charles Ciacco are representing 227 Bourbon St. and Motwani.

Orleans Parish Case 2010-08656

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