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Staff photo by Tim Barber/ Coyote Jack's is seen in this street level view, Monday, Oct. 7, 2019.

This story was updated Tuesday, Oct. 22, 2019, at 9:30 p.m.

A decision about shutting down the Coyote Jack's nightclub will not come until December after an agreement was reached Tuesday between the city of Chattanooga and representatives of the club's owners.

Earlier this month, the city asked a judge to declare the Cowart Street venue a public nuisance in an attempt to have it shuttered after a third fatal shooting in three years.

On Tuesday, a city attorney and the defendants signed a motion to continue the matter until Dec. 19 because Russell King — attorney for Bankable Holdings LLC, which owns the club, and Tammie Taylor, who owns Bankable Holdings — were not available for the hearing.

In the order, the city agreed to postpone any decision under the stipulation that King's clients, who the city has struggled to contact since the most recent fatal shooting, have been served papers related to the nuisance abatement and that the club will stay closed until the court rules on the first order in the case.

"They have agreed to stay closed [through the hearing], and we have an order filed with court to get the case heard in full with all parties present on Dec. 19," City Attorney Phil Noblett said outside of the courtroom Tuesday.

While only Noblett, Assistant City Attorney Keith Reisman and William Hannah, the attorney for Cow Art LLC — which owns the property itself — were at the courthouse Tuesday, the city and all defendants have signed the order, with the exception of King, who is out of town but agreed to the order via phone, according to a court employee.

The nuisance abatement is one of many efforts by the city and state to shut down Coyote Jack's after the fatal shooting of a 19-year-old early in October, the third fatal and 10th total shooting at the club's address since 2015.

The club, co-owned by Taylor and Ronnie Berke, the uncle of Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke, has not reopened since the Oct. 6 shooting and has had its liquor and business licenses revoked by the state, its beer permit revoked by the city and its lease terminated by the property owners.

Neither Ronnie Berke nor Taylor were present at court Tuesday.

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Nuisance abatement

The nuisance abatement petition was filed by the city five days after the shooting to ask the court to declare the club a public nuisance and close its doors permanently.

A nuisance is defined, in part, as "any place in or upon which" unlawful sale of liquor or any controlled substances, quarrelling, drunkenness, fighting or breaches of the peace are carried out or permitted, according to state law.

The petition names Coyote Jack's Saloon, Bankable Holdings LLC, and Taylor and Ronnie Berke as defendants. It also names the property owners because it seemed "fair," according to Reisman the day it was filed.

According to Reisman, the city filed a petition of nuisance abatement, a process that waits for a judgment before the court intervenes, rather than an immediate order of nuisance abatement, because the city, state and property owners had effectively shut down the business.

"[Coyote Jack's] has been stopped at this point," Reisman said. "The emergency element doesn't exist here ... they are not serving beer or alcohol at all right now."

 

What's next

The new nuisance abatement hearing is scheduled for Dec. 19 in Hamilton County Chancery Court.

A hearing on the state filing to permanently revoke the club's liquor license is scheduled for Dec. 20 in Nashville.

Taylor has not responded to multiple requests for comment since the shooting earlier this month.

Ronnie Berke refused to respond to multiple phone calls and in-person requests for comment.

Sarah Grace Taylor can be reached at 423-757-6416 or staylor@timesfreepress.com or on Twitter @_SarahGTaylor.

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