Cordish division named in Louisville, Ky., lawsuit alleging discrimination

The Baltimore Sun

A division of the Baltimore-based Cordish Cos. has been named as a co-defendant in a lawsuit alleging discriminatory practices at The Maker's Mark Bourbon House and Lounge, a tenant at Cordish's Fourth Street Live! property in Louisville, Ky.

The lawsuit, filed Wednesday, alleges that the lounge's employees "demanded to know the ratio of 'black people' to 'white people'" who were expected to attend a party, then denied entrance to every black person who showed up.

Andre Mulligan, the plaintiff in the lawsuit, is suing Louisville Bourbon LLC (doing business as Maker's Mark Bourbon House and Lounge) and Cordish Operating Ventures LLC of Baltimore in Jefferson County Court in Kentucky.

In the suit, Mulligan says that he met Aug. 17 with employees from Maker's Mark Bourbon House and Lounge about a party he was planning there. He alleges that they asked him about the proportion of black patrons vs. white patrons and, upon learning that all the attendees would be black, told him that "he and other African Americans would not be allowed to hold an event." The lawsuit claims that the next evening, when Mulligan and other black would-be party-goers showed up, bar employees refused to serve them.

In addition, Mulligan's suit contends, "Cordish security told the Plaintiff to 'shut up' and that he was trespassing. Cordish security informed the Plaintiff that he would be 'locked up' if he did not leave the grounds."

Kurt A. Scharfenberger, who is representing Mulligan in his lawsuit, told The Baltimore Sun that Mulligan had booked the party at Maker's Mark Bourbon House and Lounge before his Aug. 17 meeting with the lounge's employees. It was only when Mulligan showed up in person for the meeting, with his brother, that he was asked about the party's racial make-up, Scharfenberger said.

Asked Friday evening about the incident, the Cordish Cos. supplied a statement from Fourth Street Live spokesman Mike Leonard.

"This is a matter between a third party tenant and an individual. Neither Fourth Street Live! nor The Cordish Company nor any of their employees were involved in the alleged situation," he said.  "The tenant has vigorously denied the allegations and stated they are totally false.  In addition, we have conducted an independent investigation of the allegations and believe them to be without merit."

Maker's Mark released a statement distancing itself from the Maker's Mark Bourbon House and Lounge.

"Maker’s Mark licenses its name and trademark to a third party appointed by Cordish Operating Ventures, LLC, which is solely responsible for the ownership, operation and management of the Maker’s Mark Bourbon House and Lounge in Louisville Kentucky," said the statement from Chairman Emeritus Bill Samuels Jr. and COO Rob Samuels. "Maker's Mark has no ownership or involvement in the Lounge whatsoever. ... Maker’s Mark does not accept, and will not tolerate, discrimination in any form, and has so notified and warned the company which is solely responsible for the operation of the Lounge."

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