The owners of several businesses in Little Havana — including the popular Ball & Chain — have filed a federal lawsuit against the City of Miami, alleging they weaponized city departments to run those once-booming businesses out of town.
The 66-page lawsuit, filed Thursday by the Mad Room Hospitality — which owns Ball & Chain and Taquerias el Mexicano, along with other businesses — seeks $27.9 million in damages from the city.
The lawsuit claims city leaders instituted raid-style inspections, some at peak business hours, and “deliberately crafted” city ordinances targeting Ball & Chain.
Thursday’s lawsuit comes days after a leaked memo from Police Chief Art Acevedo made similar claims against commissioners.
This is the latest development in a public sparring match that covering years. In 2019, Ball & Chain’s co-owner, Bill Fuller, accused Commissioner Joe Carollo of illegally targeting his businesses after Fuller supported Carollo’s political rivals.
“The lies, and the unethics, and the crimes that this man has committed, will come out for everyone,” Fuller said in 2019.
Carollo said at the time the ownership group was serving alcohol illegally at another business and that late-night clubs didn’t belong in the area.
“This man has got a history of doing what he pleases, in violation of building laws, code enforcement,” Carollo said back in 2019.
Since then, the lawsuit alleged city leaders put in a plan to issue bogus code violations, and passed a law targeting Ball & Chain by creating new noise restrictions.
Ball & Chain was shut down in November 2020, and Taquerias el Mexicano was shut down back in August.
The lawsuit says a restaurant manager was unjustly arrested, but the charges were dropped later.
Carollo told NBC 6 by phone Thursday night that he has however to read the lawsuit, but will soon.
“This is going to read like some kind of novel, but very, very short on the truth,” he said.
“This is however another attempt on Mr. Fuller’s part to deflect his illegal management of similarities and businesses onto the city. We look forward to addressing his conduct in court,” said Victoria Mendez, the city’s attorney.
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