Jury awards $500K to former Myrtle Beach business owner who sued city
CONWAY, S.C. (WMBF) – A Horry County jury ruled in favor of a former business owner in the Myrtle Beach Superblock who filed a lawsuit against the city.
According to court documents, at the end of a three-day jury trial that began June 21, the jury reached a verdict finding the city of Myrtle Beach tortiously interfered with plaintiff Henry Brewington’s contract to sell Levelz Bar and Grill and awarded $500,000 in damages.
An order on post-trial motions states the amount was reduced to $300,000 to bring it into compliance with the Tort Claims Act.
In February 2017, Henry and Virginia Brewington filed a lawsuit against the city of Myrtle Beach and demanded a jury trial. According to court documents, the two entered into a five-year lease agreement in April 2014 for property located at 515 9th Ave. North, an area referred to as the Superblock.
That property housed Levelz Bar and Grill and the plaintiffs stated a campaign was started to shut down certain businesses that were deemed “undesirable to the area,” the lawsuit states.
According to court documents, those incidents included: notifying the fire marshal after a drink special that included sparklers in the beverage was sold; an officer advising the owners that the “word on the street” was a Conway shooting was linked to Levelz and then leaving; and police conducting multiple walkthroughs of the bar, with as many as 10 officers in the building at a time.
In response to the harassment, the plaintiffs decided to sell the business, the lawsuit states. On Jan. 27, 2015, Natalie Litsey signed a contract of sale to purchase the business for approximately $150,000, according to court documents. The Brewingtons said they spoke with their landlord about transferring the lease and all parties were in agreement.
The lawsuit states that city officials contacted Litsey after learning of the sale and “interrogated her as to the business she intended to open in that location, what her relationship was to the Plaintiffs, whether she had the appropriate licenses, etc. and further misrepresented to Ms. Litsey that (Levelz) had been a problem location and that incidents that had occurred in proximity to their location were directly related to (the bar).”
Ultimately, Litsey decided not to proceed with purchasing the property and signed a release of agreement, court documents state.
In February 2015, a fatal shooting at Levelz Bar and Grill left 23-year-old Saequan Vereen dead.
A jury found Kevin Bryant guilty of Vereen’s murder in December 2016 and he was sentenced to life in prison.
Days after the shooting, Levelz Bar and Grill was deemed a public nuisance and forced to close. The lawsuit states that the plaintiffs had been “deprived of their rights and had no opportunity to continue” based upon the defendant’s actions.
The Brewingtons stated in the lawsuit that the business was in no way responsible or had anything to do with illegal activities that took place in proximity to their location, including the deadly February 2015 shooting.
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