A north Lincoln bar owner has asked a judge to reinstate his liquor license after state regulators cancelled it because of an August party there that spiraled into a melee.
Heidelberg's owner John McManus appealed the ruling of the Nebraska Liquor Control Commission in a petition to the Lancaster County District Court on Wednesday.
At a December hearing, liquor commissioners said they lost confidence in McManus’ ability to follow the law after police testified that hundreds of drunken patrons began fighting in the bar at 33rd and Superior streets. The incident happened around closing time following an after-party for the Aug. 19 Terence "Bud" Crawford boxing match.
In the lawsuit, McManus' attorney Charles Humble called the commission's ruling arbitrary, capricious and contrary to Nebraska law.
Commissioners took issue with McManus' decisions to allow the event that other bars had canceled and to give control of the door to a third-party promoter he barely knew.
The bar had nine private security guards on duty that night.
These decisions were among the commission's legal errors in the case, Humble said.
"There was ample security already in place in and about the licensed premises in significant numbers to handle any situation which might take place, and, in fact, security and law enforcement personnel responded quickly to handle the situation on August 20, 2017, in a timely manner without serious injury to the patrons or the general public," Humble said in the lawsuit.
McManus told the commission at the hearing he would no longer host parties for promoters.
Fueled by feuds between rival North Omaha gangs, the fighting drained city resources as 30 officers responded to quell the violence, police said. Crawford is from Omaha.
If the judge doesn't reverse the commission's decision, the bar's license is set to be surrendered Feb. 1.