Racial discrimination suit filed against Alton bar in federal court

By Steve Gonzalez | Oct 26, 2005

Charles Jordan filed suit against Mac’s Timeout Lounge and its owner, Van “Mac” Lenhardt in U.S. District Court in East St. Louis Oct. 24 claiming he was kicked out of the bar because he was African-American.

Jordan originally filed suit against the Alton tavern in Madison County in November of 2004. His case was dismissed by Circuit Judge Nicholas Byron in February because his claim lacked subject matter jurisdiction.

“Defendants violated Jordan’s rights to make and enforce contracts and to enjoy the full and equal benefit of the laws as enjoyed by white citizens,” the complaint states.

Mac’s Timeout operates as a bar and off-track betting facility on 317 Belle St. in Alton.

In November, Jordan claimed Lenhardt used a racial epithet "in a voice that could be heard throughout the premises,” the complaint stated.

He alleged that Lenhardt repeatedly taunted him while following him out of the bar onto the sidewalk.

The day he filed his suit in Madison County, Jordan held a press conference at the Alton City Cemetery in front of the Elijah P. Lovejoy monument, accusing Lenhardt of violating the Illinois Human Rights Act. The act makes it unlawful for a proprietor of a public facility to deny a customer services, based on racial discrimination.

In the suit filed in federal court, Jordan claims the defendants actions were intentional, willful, knowing, wanton and malicious and in flagrant disregard of his rights. He is seeking punitive damages.

He is seeking relief to make him whole for the harm caused, including an order to pay him sums that are just and reasonable and for compensatory damages for emotional distress, punitive damages in an amount to punish Mac’s and to deter them and others from similar conduct, costs of litigation and reasonable attorney fees.

Jordan also is seeking an injunction prohibiting defendants from denying the rights of him and other African-Americans to full and equal enjoyment of goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, and accommodations of a place of public accommodation without discrimination or segregation on the ground of race, color or national origin.

According to the complaint, Jordan is also seeking an injunction requiring Mac’s to post a notice of intent not to deny the rights of African-Americans.

Jordan is represented by Mark Potashnick of St. Louis. He was represented by Thomas Gibbons of Edwardsville in his original case.

The case has been assigned to District Judge William Stiehl.


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