CONWAY, S.C. (WBTW) – A jury agreed with the former owner of a bar and grill in Myrtle Beach who said he was targeted by the city to clear the way for Super Block plans.
An Horry County jury on Thursday reached a verdict finding the city of Myrtle Beach “tortiously interfered with the Plaintiff’s contract” to sell Levelz Bar and Grill. As a result, Henry Brewington was awarded $500,000 in damages.
However, the city made multiple post-trial motions, one to reduce the amount awarded to $300,000 “in compliance with the Tort Claims Act.” That motion was granted. Other motions for a new trial were denied.
The lawsuit, filed in February of 2017, claimed the city began a campaign to shut down certain businesses they deemed undesirable to the area and their business was unfairly targeted.
The lawsuit also claimed the owner of Levelz operated lawfully, that any issues were dealt with legally, and the business was in no way responsible for any criminal activity on or near the property. Police reports and the lawsuit confirm drug arrests, a fight between two females, and a public intoxication arrest occurred on or near the property.
The lawsuit says officers were dispatched to “keep check” on the business, and at one point, as many as 10 officers were in the bar at a time conducting “walk-throughs.” When the bar reached out to the city to complain about harassment by police, a meeting was held and city officials expressed their desire to shut down the business, the lawsuit says.
Three days later, the plaintiff received a notice of public nuisance stating the property was being used to sell drugs and for the continuous breach of peace, and the owner had 10 days to abate the issue. The same notice was sent to the owner’s landlord a few days later.
The lawsuit says representatives from the City of Myrtle Beach inaccurately informed the landlord that the business had become a public nuisance and was “being used for the sale of controlled substances,” and also blames those allegations for terminating the relationship between the landlord and the bar owners.
On Feb. 15, a man was shot and killed in front of the building next to Levelz. According to the lawsuit, it was later determined the shooter had been hired to kill the victim and the shooting was in no way related to the operation of the plaintiff’s business.
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According to the document, in response to the city and the county’s “harassment and intimidation tactics,” the owners decided to sell the business.
The defendants claim they were deprived of their propriety rights to operate a business, to sell their business, and also suffered financial damages due to the four years of lost revenue after the lease was cut short.
The Superblock area had been a subject of controversy in Myrtle Beach for years. At 9th Avenue North and Kings Highway, the area was targeted as an opportunity zone for redevelopment.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated to correct the date of the verdict