Frederick bar sues neighboring establishment -- Gazette.Net


This story was corrected on May 3, 2012. An explanation follows the story.

The owner of Griff’s Landing in downtown Frederick has filed a lawsuit against neighboring Canal Bar, following years of feuding between the two establishments, and seeks $2 million in damages.

The lawsuit, filed March 15 in Frederick County Circuit Court by Griff’s owner Shannon Griffis Essel, alleges the owners of Canal spread lies about Griff’s, interfered with its business, and ultimately cost the business money.

Canal Bar and owners Kriste Kidd and Charles Kidd III, who are listed as defendants in the civil suit, deny each of the seven allegations made by Griff’s.

Essel makes the following claims in her lawsuit:

ŸGriff’s claims that after a January shooting near the two bars, the owners of Canal told people that Griff’s was to blame for the altercation.

ŸGriff’s alleges it was one of six bars originally selected to host a Key 103 “Happy Hour for Hope” event, but was dropped after the owners of Canal told sponsors that Griff’s promotes violence. Sean Morrissey, the event’s organizer, had no comment when asked about Griff’s Landing’s participation in the event.

ŸGriff’s alleges the Kidds circulated a letter and petition defaming Griff’s to more than 400 people, in which they claimed Griff’s attracts and caters to gang members and thugs, and Griff’s is the root of the crime problem in downtown.

Essel and the Kidds did not return repeated calls for comment.

Canal’s Lawyer, Michael Burgoyne, based in Baltimore, also did not return calls for comment. Griff’s attorney, Washington, D.C.-based Falen LaPonzina, did not return calls for comment.

A pretrial conference in the case is scheduled for Dec. 12. In the suit, Griff’s is seeking $2 million in damages, as well as court costs. The demands also include a restraining order barring the Kidds and the bar, as well as employees, from filing false reports against any agency, and from making false statements about the bar. It also asks for a retraction of all statements made about Griff’s Landing.

In the complaint, Griff’s states Kriste Kidd was employed by Griff’s in 1999, was a regular patron and met her husband, Charles, at the bar. The relationship between the bars — and their owners — soured in 2010 for reasons not disclosed in the court documents.

The lawsuit claims since fall 2011, Canal’s owners filed seven complaints to the Frederick County Liquor Board against Griff’s, in which they said the bar served alcohol to minors, watered down liquor, and served full bottles of liquor to customers.

The most recent complaint, made to the liquor board, came in February for watering down alcohol.

During a meeting of the liquor board on Feb. 13, board members discussed conflict between the two bars. The board approved a fundraising event at Canal Bar and The Greene Turtle on March 4. On that same day, Griff’s was advertising a competing charity event by saying “their event is better and come to that event,” according to records of the meeting.

The two bars are adjacent to Citizen’s Way, an alley that connects Court and South Market streets. The area is a frequent site of violence downtown, with 30 people being arrested in the area last year, according to Frederick Police Chief Kim Dine.

On Jan. 28, a fistfight in the alley between the bars led to a shooting in which one man was injured. On March 2, two women were arrested for disorderly conduct after being removed from Griff’s Landing by bar staff.

Bars in the area, including Canal and The Greene Turtle, recently hosted a fundraiser to purchase cameras for the alley. Griff’s did not participate in that event.

tlaino@gazette.netCorrection: This article was update to correct the spelling of an attorney’s name and include the damages sought by Griff’s Landing.