Business owner sues city after losing her business license - WNEM TV 5

Business owner sues city after losing her business license

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Rita Johnson (Source: WNEM) Rita Johnson (Source: WNEM)
SAGINAW, MI (WNEM) -

A local restaurant owner said she has been unfairly targeted and her business was shut down.

Now she and her attorney are suing the city of Saginaw.

Rita Johnson, owner of Rita's Southern Soul Cafe in downtown Saginaw, is suing the city for what she calls biased decisions that led to her business getting shut down.

"We've never had anyone shoot in the building. There was no firing, no weapons that were fired in this building. Not one," Johnson previously told TV5 when she learned the city was suspending her business license.

Five months later she is taking her case to federal court.

This is after she was forced to close up shop and lose her business license after a shooting took place outside her building back in May.

"I don't know what this issue is that they may have with me or if something's steaming up," Johnson said.

Johnson's attorney, Phil Ellison, said the city of Saginaw violated Johnson's constitutional rights.

"When I started into the case I suddenly discovered there was tons and tons of conflicts of interest," Ellison said.

The lawsuit alleges Johnson was subject to biased decision making.

"At this point we don't know what exactly the city's motive is. What's striking in this particular case is that Rita Johnson's business was shut down after unknown gangsters came out and shot up the front of her building. We've had other businesses where shooting have occurred. Nothing's happened to them and one of the businesses actually an individual was killed out in front of it. And again, the city took no action against those businesses," Ellison said.

TV5 reached out to the city manager and the chief inspector to ask the tough questions about Johnson's license, but received no response.

At this point, Ellison said they are waiting for the court hearing next month to determine whether or not the case will move forward. Ellison said he and his client are confident.

"We believe the judge will allow this case to go forward and the city will be forced to change its ordinances and processes and be prohibited from this point forward using this process they've been using to bully local businesses," Ellison said.

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