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Published October 03, 2012, 06:40 PM

Fantasy’s Suits Inch Forward

A judge could make a decision soon on whether an adult-themed store can open in Grand Forks while a similar lawsuit against the city of East Grand Forks is moving toward a trial.

By: Christopher Bjorke, Grand Forks Herald

A judge could make a decision soon on whether an adult-themed store can open in Grand Forks while a similar lawsuit against the city of East Grand Forks is moving toward a trial.

The owners of Fantasy’s, a Fargo store selling lingerie and other adult-oriented products, tried to open stores in both cities, but were blocked by local ordinances restricting adult-oriented businesses.

Fantasy’s owners Jim and Kim Patterson sued both cities to get their stores open. Their East Grand Forks shop has been open since July following an injunction allowing the business to operate while the suit goes forward. It shut down in May.

Jim Patterson said he hopes to get a decision allowing him to open the Grand Forks shop as early as this month following a hearing Monday in Fantasy’s case against the city.

District Judge Lawrence Jahnke heard arguments from both sides and asked them to file short written summations of their arguments by Oct. 15, after which he will make a decision on the case.

The Grand Forks City Council passed an ordinance in April restricting where adult-oriented businesses can operate, prohibiting Fantasy’s from opening at its leased location at Fifth Avenue North and North Washington Street, a block from Winship Elementary School.

City Attorney Howard Swanson said he planned to give Jahnke a summary of a brief he filed in September, arguing the complaint lacked a basis for claiming violations of free speech.

Michael Deal, attorney for the Pattersons, said he would argue in part that the city did not have enough evidence of harm created by shops specializing in adult-oriented products to support the city’s ordinance.

In Minnesota, U.S. Magistrate Judge Leo Brisbois has set an Oct. 19 pre-trial conference in Fergus Falls, Minn., for the Pattersons’ suit against the city of East Grand Forks.

Their attorney, Randall Tigue, said his side will probably ask the city for a settlement that could include damages and legal fees.

The case will go to trial if the two sides do not come to an agreement on the business.

Also Tuesday, the East Grand Forks City Council held a closed executive session to discuss the lawsuit. City Administrator Scott Huizenga said the council did not make any decision.

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