Judge tosses Benji Brown’s suit after 7 years

WARREN – A Trumbull County Common Pleas judge threw out a seven-year-old lawsuit originally filed by the city of Warren against LaShawn Ziegler as the owner of the former Benji Brown’s nightclub on North Park Avenue.

Judge Ronald Rice granted the motion for summary judgment sought by attorneys representing the city.

Dismissed Tuesday along with the original 2008 nuisance action were several counterclaims against the city by Ziegler, who alleged constitutional violations and discrimination.

Ziegler formerly owned Benji Brown’s, 2261 N. Park Ave., which was boarded up by the city in April 2008 after it was declared a nuisance by Judge John M. Stuard based on neighborhood complaints about noise, gunshots and fights.

A legal battle with the city resulted from the action, but was resolved a month later when Ziegler agreed to have the property revert back to its original owner.

Ziegler had filed the counterclaims within a month of the nuisance complaint.

Rice inherited the case from Stuard, who retired at the end of last year.

Ziegler, prior to Benji Brown’s, ran 77 Soul on Youngstown Road S.E., which became notorious for frequent visits by police.

That business was shuttered by the city in 2004 after officials claimed its usage had changed from a restaurant to a nightclub and the proper building permits were not obtained to make the necessary improvements.

Ziegler and his management company, which more recently ran the now-closed Sunset Lounge, are currently among defendants in a lawsuit filed by the owner of Sunrise Inn, Ken Haidaris.