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Susie’s Bottoms Up discrimination complaint has been settled

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Former bar owner agrees to $10,000 settlement with complainant

By Stephen Lega

The former owner of a Raywick bar has agreed to $10,000 payment to settle a discrimination complaint stemming from an April 5, 2012 incident.
Susan Riggle, the former owner of Susie’s Bottoms Up, agreed to make the payment to Naquan Thurman, a patron who was denied entrance to the bar because of his race. The payment was part of a conciliation agreement that the Kentucky Commission on Human Rights approved at its Aug. 15 meeting in Louisville.
On April 5, 2012, multiple patrons of Susie’s Bottoms Up reported that African-Americans were being denied admittance to the bar and that the bouncers at the door were telling them that blacks would not be allowed inside that night.
Shortly after the incident, Riggle told the Enterprise that her intention had been to keep out anyone who had been involved in an incident the previous week in which a sheriff’s deputy was “jumped.”
An African-American Campbellsville University student had been arrested the previous week after he failed to comply with a deputy’s order to disperse after the bar had closed. That student later pled guilty to fourth-degree assault.
The human rights commission also started its own investigation of what occurred April 5. In Kentucky, the commission is the authority that enforces the state and federal civil rights acts.
In the aftermath of the April 5 incident, Susan and David Riggle sold the business to Chris Gribbins of Hodgenville. Gribbins reopened the establishment as the Raywick Bar and Grill. (Gribbins has since been indicted for murder and assault for a separate incident that occurred Nov. 9, 2012. See related story.)
In October 2012, the commission determined that there was “probable cause to believe unlawful discrimination occurred” at Susie’s Bottoms Up. Discrimination based on a race as a place of public accommodation is a considered a violation of the Kentucky Civil Rights Act.
A 'place of public accommodation, resort or amusement' is defined as any place store or other establishment, either licensed or unlicensed, which supplies goods or services to the general public or which solicits or accepts the patronage or trade of the general public."
The commission chairman, George Stinson, filed a commissioner-initiated complaint, and Thurman of Hodgenville filed an individual complaint.
Those complaints were filed against Susan Riggle as the owner, the Fifth Wheel Bar and Grill (doing business as Susie’s Bottoms Up). After the bar was sold, Thurman’s complaint was amended to include Gribbins and the Broken Spoke Bar and Grill.
Although Gribbins was not involved in the April 5, 2012, incident, he was subject to successor liability and should have known Susie’s Bottoms Up was involved in litigation and an investigation, according to Thurman’s amended complaint.
Last week’s conciliation agreement avoided an administrative hearing, which had been scheduled for September.
Under the agreement, Riggle paid $10,000 to Thurman as compensation. According to Thurman’s complaint, he had suffered embarrassment and humiliation as a result of the discrimination.
Riggle and the Fifth Wheel also agreed to undergo civil rights law compliance monitoring.  This included stating if they are involved in a business that provides food, drink or entertainment for the public, reporting any claims of discrimination and submitting to anti-discrimination training.