City files lawsuit to shut down The Scratch Kitchen and Bar

The Scratch Kitchen
The Scratch Kitchen

The City of Ocean Springs has filed a lawsuit in Chancery Court asking for an injunction to keep The Scratch Kitchen from re-opening following a deadly shooting last weekend.

The city filed the lawsuit today in Jackson County Chancery Court. The owner of The Scratch Kitchen and Bar, Brittany Cruso, is listed as a defendant,  along with White Oak Lane LLC, the limited liability company under which The Scratch Kitchen and Bar operates.

In the lawsuit, the city says that since the business opened in April 2022, there have been numerous calls and complaints from residents and other businesses, saying The Scratch Kitchen is a nuisance and there had been criminal activity inside that spilled out into the city streets, common areas and adjacent parking.

The lawsuit went on to say that the issues have “escalated to the level of a serious public safety issue based on multiple recent shootings that have occurred.”

It cited the shooting last weekend at a Cinco de Mayo party where 19-year-old Chayse Harmon died and six others were injured. The lawsuit says that evidence showed at least three other firearms were inside the bar when the shooting occurred.

“…Early findings strongly suggest a lack of accountable and responsible business practices that have unnecessarily endangered the health and safety of citizens.”

  • The lawsuit says The Scratch Kitchen’s lack of accountability includes:
  • Failure to properly identify underage patrons;
  • Failure to screen and safeguard from bringing illegal drugs, bottled alcohol and deadly weapons onto the premises;
  • Failure to implement adequate and effective security;
  • Failure to conduct necessary crowd control;
  • Operating over the maximum allowed capacity in violation of the city fire code.

“The day after the shooting, the crime scene was evident with liquor bottles scattered throughout along with the overwhelming aroma of marijuana,” the lawsuit says.

The lawsuit also enumerates calls to The Scratch Kitchen and Bar to illustrate that it has become a public nuisance:

  •  Two shootings
  • Domestic dispute
  • Disturbing the peace (multiple violations)
  • Drunk and disorderly
  • Fights
  • Fire code violations
  • City ordinance violations

The lawsuit goes on to recount a meeting between the city and Alexander at the business owner’s request. In the meeting, the lawsuit says, Alexander accused the city of discriminating against her as a black-owned business.

She cited an increased police presence around her business that was dissuading patrons from visiting. The city responded that it was outside agencies that had identified The Scratch Kitchen as a “known gathering place for suspected criminals.”

The city asked for a preliminary injunction be granted to keep the business closed and that a permanent injunction be granted as a means to keep the city safe.


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