Attorney General Ellison resolves lawsuit with Hookah Bar that violated executive orders
The Hookah Hideout will pay State $4,000, fully comply with executive orders
March 11, 2021
March 10, 2021 (SAINT PAUL) — Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison announced today that his office has settled its lawsuit against a Little Canada hookah lounge, The Hookah Hideout, for violations of Governor Tim Walz’s Executive Order 20-99 and Executive Order 20-103.
Per the terms of a consent judgment filed in Ramsey County, David Nelson, Jr. d/b/a The Hookah Hideout will pay a $4,000 fine and comply with the requirements of Governor Tim Walz’s current and future executive orders that apply to tobacco shops and/or hookah lounges while those executive orders are effective. If The Hookah Hideout were to violate any of the terms of the consent judgment, it would be subject to a civil penalty of $15,000. All funds received in this settlement go to the State of Minnesota General Fund, not the Attorney General’s Office.
One of the requirements of the executive orders — a targeted, temporary dial-back of certain activities to halt the spread of COVID-19 — was that hookah lounges were prohibited from permitting indoor, on-premises consumption of tobacco starting Friday, November 20, 2020 at 11:59 p.m. until January 10, 2021 at 11:59 p.m. Despite efforts by the Attorney General’s Office to gain compliance with the requirements to stop the spread of COVID-19, The Hookah Hideout remained open for indoor, on-premises consumption, and a state investigator noted multiple violations in an unannounced visit.
When the Attorney General’s Office first called The Hookah Hideout, the lounge’s owner indicated that he would consider complying with the executive orders on the condition that he received funding as part of the state aid package passed on December 14, 2020. After that phone call, The Hookah Hideout remained open for indoor, on-premises consumption of tobacco products, and on January 7, 2021, Attorney General Ellison’s office filed a lawsuit against the hookah lounge for openly violating the executive orders.
“It’s every Minnesotan’s responsibility to stop the spread of COVID-19. I thank this business for agreeing to meet its responsibility and rejoin the vast majority of Minnesota businesses that are already doing so,” Attorney General Ellison said. “The situation is improving but we’re not out of the woods yet, so we must all keep following the COVID guidance and restrictions. My top priority has always been educating Minnesotans about their responsibility and winning voluntary compliance. Enforcement has been and will continue to be a last resort.”
This represents the fifth settlement the Attorney General’s office has reached with businesses against which it had filed enforcement actions for violating the terms of Executive Orders 20-99 and 20-103.
Attorney General Ellison reminds Minnesotans that they can report COVID-19-related concerns and complaints either through the Office’s dedicated COVID-19 online complaint form on his website or by calling his office at (651) 296-3353 (Metro area) or (800) 657-3787 (Greater Minnesota).