A liquor store that is described by the city as a have for crimes and drugs is now fighting back against government attempts to close it down with a personal injury lawsuit.
Last year, ENG Liquor, successfully beat efforts to have it closed is now seeking $200,000 from Oakland for several illegal acts ranging from defamation to intentional infliction of emotional distress.
ENGs fued with the city started last year when Oakland started a campaign to shut the store down.
City officials, led by City Attorney John Russo’s office, threatened Phua with $1,000-a-day fines if he did not revoke Negi’s lease and shut the store down. It continued with threats against Phua’s other properties and calls from Councilmember Patricia Kernighan’s office demanding the store be kicked out of its location, the lawsuit said.
The threats resulted in Phua filing claims against his tenant in court demanding he move from the property. Those filings were made despite a 15-year relationship between Phua and Negi that had never suffered problems, the lawsuit states.
“My client and the property owner had a real good relationship,” said Edward Higginbotham, Negi’s attorney. “The property owner had to file (against Negi) … because he received pressure from both the city attorney’s office and Councilmember Patricia Kernighan’s office.”
As a result, Negi had to live in fear of losing his only means of revenue and had to cut down on his inventory which cost him profits, the lawsuit states. Erica Harrold, spokesperson for the city attorney’s office, said the city had yet to see the lawsuit but will “give it due diligence.”
Currently, he seeks at least $200,000 from the city for damages. That number could rise his lease is not extended when it expires in April, the attorney said.