Appeals court affirms injunction against Clarksville’s Theatre X

A Clarksville adult entertainment venue ordered to cease operations due to local ordinance violations lost its appeal of an injunction Wednesday.

The Indiana Court of Appeals upheld the Clark Circuit Court’s ruling against operators of Theatre X in Midwest Entertainment Ventures, Inc. (DBA Theatre X) and AMW Investments, Inc. v. The Town of Clarksville, Planning Commission for the Town of Clarksville, and Rick Barr, Town of Clarksville Building Commissioner, 19A-PL-2962.

The town of Clarksville, its planning commission and building commissioner moved for a preliminary injunction against Midwest Entertainment Ventures Inc., which does business as Theatre X, and AMW Investments Inc., which owns the property where Theatre X operates.

The building commissioner inspected the theater in November 2018, finding holes in the walls between viewing rooms, and police a few months later found patrons engaged in sex acts on the premises. Theatre X’s license ultimately was suspended, and the town council in May 2019 revoked MEV’s adult business license due to various zoning ordinance violations.

The next month, the town council adopted additional sexually oriented business regulations requiring, among other things, that a manager of such a business have an unobstructed view of every area of the premises except restrooms. The same month, MEV appealed the revocation of Theatre X’s adult business license.

The trial court ultimately denied the petition and granted Clarksville’s cross-motion for a preliminary injunction enjoining Theater X from operating unless it complied with the stricter ordinance.

The Court of Appeals affirmed Wednesday, rejecting Theatre X’s argument that the town lacked standing to seek the injunction. The panel also limited its appeal to only the issue of the injunction, declining MEV’s pleadings to review denial of its motion to dismiss. The COA also found the town had named the proper parties in obtaining an injunction.

“Under the lease agreement, AMW requires MEV to operate the premises as an adult entertainment venue, and AMW retains the ultimate authority to control any changes to the building, including those necessary to comply with applicable ordinances,” Judge Terry Crone wrote for the panel. “In addition, the evidence in the record before us supports the trial court’s findings regarding AMW’s participation in the 2018 Zoning Ordinance violations.

“AMW’s argument on this issue is merely a request to reweigh the evidence, which we must decline,” Crone continued. “We conclude that the trial court did not abuse its discretion by enjoining AMW.”

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