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Boat Club lawsuits dismissed, postponed

Teresa Fralish | Wednesday, August 27, 2003

Approximately 40 lawsuits filed against Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s students who were cited in the Jan. 24 Boat Club raid have been dismissed and the remaining 150 trials have been postponed until Sept. 23.

In April, Millennium Enterprises, the company that owns Boat Club, filed suits for $3,000 each against Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s students cited in the raid.

In his order granting the motion to dismiss the lawsuits, St. Joseph County Superior Court Magistrate Richard McCormick said Millennium Enterprises failed to show adequate legal precedent for its claim. McCormick said he did not agree with The Boat Club’s argument that underage students admitted to the bar were responsible for damages the bar could incur as a result of the raid.

South Bend attorney Ed Sullivan, who filed the motion to dismiss in June, said he realized the cited students broke the law, but did not believe they were solely responsible for any penalties the bar faces. “Even if the factual allegations are true, the law doesn’t allow this type of claim,” Sullivan said.

In its brief to the court, Millen-nium Enterprises claimed that the “Defendant(s) knowingly made false statements … of their age for purposes of inducing Plaintiff to allow Defendant to gain admission to defendant’s business establishment … the Plaintiff has sustained damages, expenses, losses, costs and attorney fees due to the fraudulent actions of the Defendant.”

The Boat Club faced sanctions from the Indiana Alcohol and Tobacco Commission and was given the options of losing its liquor license or paying a $5,000 fine and selling to new owners.

Sullivan said that several states do not allow this type of lawsuit. “We cited those other states in our brief to the court,” he said. Sullivan believes that the other suits may be dismissed as well. “I think it’s likely,” he said. ” That ruling can be applied to any case. The facts are identical.”

Millennium Enterprises has until Sept. 2 to appeal the decision to the Indiana Court of Appeals. Sullivan said he feels confident he would win any appeal.

Boat Club attorney Mitch Heppenheimer did not return Observer phone calls seeking comment on the suits.

Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s students who were cited for the Class C felony “Minor in a Tavern” paid court fines of $220.The Office of Residence Life and housing required cited Notre Dame students to complete 40 hours of community service.