CASE against CITY, POLICE CHIEF moves ahead

Trial dates have been set in a federal lawsuit by former tavern owners accusing Wausau Police Chief Jeff Hardel of racial bias that led to the closure of their Kent Street establishment.

Thomas and Sue Nowell are seeking unspecified damages against Hardel, Police Officer John Jurasin and the city of Wausau in a lawsuit filed in May. The suit alleges that Hardel over-policed I.C. Willy’s, a tavern the Nowells owned, which resulted in the city’s 2010 non-renewal of the bar’s liquor license. I.C. Willy’s catered to a largely Asian clientele.

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Other taverns “nearly identical to I.C. Willy’s except for their predominantly white clientele” had as many or more citations for underage drinking or noise violations but did not see the same treatment, according to federal court documents.

The Nowells previously challenged the non renewal of their liquor license in a case that went to the Wisconsin Supreme Court. In that case, the court in 2013 ruled the Nowells were not entitled to a new hearing before a circuit court judge, opening the door to a federal court filing.

If the case is not settled out of court, a trial is set to begin Nov. 6, 2017 in Madison.