Court finds Alibi Drinkery in contempt, imposes $3K/day fine

Finds Alibi ‘intentionally and purposefully is violating’ temporary injunction, ‘willfully disobeyed’ and ‘is flagrantly in violation’ of court’s orders

Court: ‘Health and welfare of the public are at risk and are being irreparably harmed’ by Alibi’s behavior

January 7, 2021 (SAINT PAUL) — The Dakota County District Court has found Alibi Drinkery of Lakeville in contempt of court for willfully violating the court’s December 31, 2020 temporary injunction that required it to close temporarily for indoor, on-premises dining and abide by Governor Tim Walz’s Executive Orders 20-99 and 20-103. The court wrote that “the State has established by a preponderance of the evidence that Defendant willfully disobeyed this Court’s Order for Temporary Injunction and is in constructive civil contempt.” It found that that Alibi “intentionally and purposefully is violating” the court’s December 31 temporary injunction, “is fully aware of these restrictions and is flagrantly in violation of the orders.” 

In a hearing on January 5, Alibi’s owner admitted in open court that Alibi had continued to provide indoor on-premises dining through the New Year’s weekend in violation of Governor Tim Walz’s Executive Orders 20-99 and 20-103 and in defiance of the court’s December 31 temporary injunction that ordered it to stop doing so. Numerous media outlets reported the same. The court today found “no dispute” that this was the case. 

The court ordered Alibi to pay a fine of $3,000 per day each day that it is open for indoor dining in violation of the executive orders and temporary injunction, effective today. In imposing a fine for civil contempt higher than that authorized in Minnesota law, the court noted that “a minimal fine would not lead to compliance with the injunction and would likely result in further spread of Covid-19.” 

The court also wrote: 

This Court’s Orders and the Executive Orders were issued for several purposes, including preventing the spread of the COVID-19 virus, to protect the capacity of our health care system and hospitals, etc. The increased hospitalizations due to the virus place an extra burden on hospitals and emergency rooms such that hospitals may not be able to provide care for other, non-COVID emergency health needs, such as victims of car crashes and heart attack patients. Each day that the Defendant remains in violation of the injunction, the health and welfare of the public are at risk and are being irreparably harmed.  

Attorney General Ellison statement 

“I am grateful that the court recognized the severity of the pandemic and the harm that Alibi’s flagrant violation of the law is causing Minnesotans,” Attorney General Ellison said. “I take no joy in seeking sanctions, but I will not shirk from my responsibility to uphold the law and the Governor’s executive orders in order to save Minnesotans’ lives, particularly in the face willful and repeated violations.” 

Background to the case 

On December 17, 2020, Attorney General Ellison’s office filed a lawsuit and motion for temporary restraining order against Alibi Drinkery for multiple alleged violations of the temporary ban on indoor, on-premises dining in Executive Order 20-99, a targeted, four-week dial-back of certain activities to halt the spread of COVID-19, which was modified and extended by Executive Order 20-103 amended and extended the provisions of Executive Order 20-99 until January 10, 2021 at 11:59 p.m. On December 18, the court granted the temporary restraining order. On December 31, the court issued a temporary injunction requiring the establishment to remain temporarily closed for indoor, on-premises dining through January 10, 2021. When Alibi indicated that same day that it would defy the temporary injunction, Attorney General Ellison’s office filed a motion for contempt of court, which the court granted today. 

In its action today, the court also denied Alibi’s motion to rescind its temporary injunction