MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- It is a big win for the owners of Silk Exotic as they continue their years-long fight for a club in downtown Milwaukee. On Thursday, February 19th, a federal jury awarded them nearly half-a-million dollars.
The judgement was reached after a two-day trial. Silk had argued that the ordinances used to reject their license were unconstitutional, and a jury agreed.
"I really want to thank the jury," Silk Exotic owner Joe Ferraro said.
Ferraro says he's been trying for eight years to build a gentleman's club in downtown Milwaukee. The last few years, he's taken the fight to court.
"Hopefully soon. We`re still actively pursuing. I don`t like spending time in court. I`d rather spend time running clubs," Ferraro said.
Now, a federal jury has taken action on a Silk lawsuit that sought damages for revenue lost because the city would not grant a license to open a club downtown. The jury awarded Silk about $435,000.
"435,000 dollars is not chicken feed, even to them. There will be almost as much in attorney`s fees," Jeff Scott Olson, the attorney for Silk Exotic said.
The City Attorney's Office says it accepts the jury's decision, but it doesn't agree with it. It will decide within the next month whether to appeal.
"The jury verdict today is not the last word on this issue," Milwaukee Alderman Bob Bauman said.
Alderman Bauman says he's surprised by the jury's decision. He says the City Attorney's Office believed it wasn't vulnerable to damages. Bauman has spoken out against Silk moving into a downtown location in the past, and he wasn't alone.
"Strong opposition from property owners, business owners and business organizations and residents," Bauman said.
Bauman says this judgement could affect the Licensing Committee's decision the next time Silk Exotic tries to secure a spot.
"It would be only natural that we would be concerned about six figure money judgments being entered against the city," Bauman said.
Silk's owner says he expects he'll be seeking another license sometime in the next three months. He isn't saying exactly where that club would be yet.
Silk has a second lawsuit filed against the city of Milwaukee with similar allegations. That suit is still making its way through the courts.
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