Strip club sues Munhall to reopen

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Munhall's only strip club is fighting to reopen.

Club Pink's owners filed a lawsuit against the borough and council, challenging the unanimous March 20 decision to revoke the bar's permit for violating a local adult entertainment ordinance.

The club was forced to close the following day or face fines or arrest, Club Pink's attorney, David Toal, said Thursday.

Its hours of operation and dancers' attire and conduct violated the ordinance, police Chief Patrick Campbell said at the March 20 hearing. Club Pink's alcohol practices also violated state liquor control code, he said.

While adult entertainment can be regulated through zoning law, nude dancing is constitutionally protected, Mr. Toal said, and the ordinance essentially bans it.

"We don't think there is a basis to close it," Mr. Toal said. "Even if there is, they have to do it the right way."

The club is seeking damages and a right to reopen.

"We want to be made whole," Mr. Toal said. "We're asking for damages, and we want them enjoined from using the ordinance and from threatening our business."

Since closing, Club Pink has lost about $10,000 per day, and more than 20 employees -- not including dancers -- are out of work, the lawsuit states.

"We're a little amazed that Munhall is trying to do this, but it is what it is," Mr. Toal said, "and now, all we can do is hope that the courts see things our way."

The parties will meet before a judge Monday morning.

Munhall Mayor Raymond Bodnar said he expected action from Club Pink, but he anticipates that the judge will support the borough. When the paperwork and permits are cast aside, he said, it's critical to remember a man was killed outside the bar.

"We're nitpicking with paper details, and as far as I'm concerned there was a killing there, and the place ought to be closed," Mr. Bodnar said.

John Hunter Sumpter IV, 32, of Wilkinsburg was sitting in a car outside the strip club March 3 when he was shot in the head and killed, police said.

Paul Barone, 23, of Munhall was charged with homicide and a weapons violation in Sumpter's death and is being held in the Allegheny County Jail.

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