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Zen Rock nightclub wins $1.6M in COVID-19 lockout lawsuit

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Posted at 12:14 PM, Aug 19, 2022

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — The operators of a Tucson nightclub have won a $1.6 million settlement against the landlord who locked them out of their business during the pandemic.

The Arizona Daily Star reported Thursday that a jury in Pima County Superior Court sided with Congress Street Clubs, the owners of Zen Rock nightclub.

On Aug. 5, they awarded the owners over $1 million to cover the value of the terms left on the lease and over $500,000 for the cost of renovations and equipment.

An attorney for the landlord declined to comment to the newspaper on the decision or a possible appeal.

In the lawsuit, the owners say they closed in March 2020 per Gov. Doug Ducey's executive order forcing bars and restaurants to shut down. They could not reopen for several months because of social distance restrictions, staff with COVID-19 and then another shutdown in June 2020.

Adam Peterson, an attorney for Congress Street Clubs, said they were not obligated to pay rent during that time under a “force majeure” clause in their lease. That clause relieves tenants hampered by acts out of their control such as governmental restrictions.

The landlord had argued the clause was too vague. By July 2020, the landlord locked the club owners out and seized $150,000 worth of equipment.