City Attorney Responds To Lawsuit (UPDATE: Wednesday, November 15)
“After a July 24, 2023 Executive Session of the Board of Mayor and Aldermen of the City of Vicksburg, the Board voted to abate the public nuisance at Jacques Nightclub operating at 1310 Mulberry Street in Vicksburg. This action was taken by the Board after Jacques failed to adhere to the terms and conditions of two Memorandum of Understanding and a Confidential Agreement entered into with the City for the safe operation of Jacques. The first Memorandum of Understanding was signed on December 26, 2018, after an altercation occurred inside of Jacques that resulted in gunfire being exchanged outside and across the street from the premises. The second Memorandum of Understanding was signed on June 10, 2020, after an altercation occurred inside of Jacques that resulted in an ejected club patron firing gunshots into the air as he tried to gain entry inside of the club. The Confidential Agreement was signed on April 29, 2022, after an altercation occurred inside of Jacques that resulted in two patrons being seriously injured fleeing from the fight. Pursuant to the terms of the Agreement, Jacques agreed to maintain a zero-tolerance policy related to misconduct of its patrons, to report unlawful and disorderly activities to the Vicksburg Police Department and to comply with the law at all times.
After the Agreement from January of 2023 until Jacques was closed, Officers of the Vicksburg Police Department reported to Jacques on many occasions for shootings, possession of drugs inside of the club, disorderly conduct, fights and assaults resulting in medical treatment for patrons, and minors being allowed inside of the club. Also, agents with the Mississippi Beverage Control reported to Jacques for the illegal sale of alcohol by Jacques’ employees to a minor. Jacques further failed to report to the Vicksburg Police Department that a young patron had been injured inside of the premises in late July of 2023 resulting in medical treatment. The Vicksburg Police Department has spent an inordinate amount of time dealing with these issues at Jacques. Due to the failure of Jacques to abide by the Agreement and MOUs, the City took necessary lawful measures to ensure that the continued reports of criminal acts were abated. No actions of the City were done with any malicious or ill intent nor were any actions violative of Jacques’ Constitutional rights. Any actions by the City were taken to ensure that public safety remained of utmost importance.”
Original Story (Nov. 14, 5:20 p.m.) :
Attorney Joseph Baladi on behalf of Jacques’ has filed suit against the City of Vicksburg, Mayor Flaggs, Chief Jones, Alderman Monsour, and Alderman Mayfield.
The suit alleges the city and named individuals have deprived Jacques’ of their constitutionally protected right to operate a legitimate business in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment and the Mississippi Constitution.
- The suit alleges the City et al treated Jacques’ differently than other similarly situated businesses.
- Count III states the city made “…illegal, improper and perverted use of a legal process” to unlawfully shut down the business.
- The suit goes on to state the City had the unlawful purpose of causing damages and loss, without right or justifiable cause.
- That the City and the named individuals made false and defamatory statements in their official and individual capacities by falsely declaring Jacques’ a public nuisance.
- That the City et al had a “Tortious Interference with Business” and that the city was in part negligent and in part willfully creating damage to the Plaintiff’s business.
- There was an infliction of emotional distress by the City’s outrageous actions targeting Jacques’ without cause or merit.
The suit points out that LD’s was treated differently by the city and more egregious crimes, including murders, had occurred at that location but the city did not permanently shut down LD’s.
City files to shut down Jacques’
On July 24, the City filed a petition to have Jacques’ closed as an alleged public nuisance based on, as stated in yesterday’s filing, “Conclusory contentions regarding an alleged excessive amount of disorderly or other unlawful conduct in or around Jacques’.” The petition, according to the filing, alleged that Jacques’ permitted and encouraged various illegal activities including a lot of gunfire on their parking lot the night of July 4 or the early morning of July 5.
In a ruling late last week, Judge Debra M. Giles decided that Jacques’ can resume their business operations after being shut down for 3 months and a week by the City. The judge dismissed the charges made by the city. The City has since filed asking that the court reconsider the allegations.
Some of the more egregious allegations made in the lawsuit are that the city refused to help Jacques’ when they called 911 or the Watch Commander for help. Chief Jones had, according to a sworn affidavit by Jay Parmegiani, told Jacques’ that if they had adequate security and put up no loitering signs she and her police team would happily escort individuals off the property in an incident. The affidavit then states there was an incident with a customer and a police officer was already on the property. Jacques’ approached the officer asking for assistance but, according to the affidavit, they were told by Chief Jones it was security’s job to handle the incident.
Coincidentally Jacques was open for a couple of weekends without a major incident after the July 4th incident. They were shut down the weekend a fishing tournament came to town and used their parking lot. “The timing of the ruling is fortuitous for the city. They’ve installed power outlets and set up parking barricades in Parmegiani’s parking lot for the tournament at the Vicksburg Convention Center. Parmegiani’s parking lot would normally be full with his guests on a Friday night, but it will instead be housing fishing boats for the city-sponsored event.
Additionally, Parmegiani testified about the July 4 incident, “On July 4, 2023, the police were called at 12:01 a.m.(July 5) They did not answer the phone or call back. At 12:36 we called back and it took them over half an hour to get there. No one was injured but some troublemakers were firing their guns in the air at the far end of the parking lot, hundreds of feet from Jacques’. The recent gunfire incident that the City used as an excuse to shut us down is a perfect example. The police Chief testified at the hearing for preliminary injunction that the people involved were already known to her as troublemakers before the incident happened. She knew the people involved, knew they were troublemakers, knew they had been involved in gunfire incidents recently, and knew they might be at Jacques’ that weekend. She anticipated that they might cause trouble that weekend at Jacques’. She anticipated that they might cause trouble that weekend at Jacques’. But she didn’t do anything to get them off the streets or stop them. And then, after these known troublemakers used the far end of the parking lot as a place to fire off a bunch of shots in the middle of the night, the city used that incident – which they expected to happen – as an excuse to shut our business. They know who these troublemakers are but they won’t get them off the streets. That’s the problem, closing Jacques’ doesn’t change anything. It won’t stop those known troublemakers with guns from firing off shots wherever they want to, just like they had already done recently before the night in the parking lot.”
No comment, no comment, no comment and …
Alderman Alex Monsour declined to comment on the suit and the allegations noting that it was an active lawsuit.
City Attorney Kim Nailor has yet to review the suit and has offered that she will give a statement on Wednesday after she’s had a chance to review the filing.
Mayor George Flaggs declined the opportunity to comment.
Police Chief Penny Jones said, “I am not aware of a lawsuit.”