Documents in Beale Street case remain sealed - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Documents in Beale Street case remain sealed

By Kontji Anthony - bio | email | Twitter | Facebook

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - The Bluff City's most famous street is at the center of a courtroom battle, as the city of Memphis sues the operators of Beale Street for more than $10 million.

No cameras were allowed in Special Judge Donald Harris' courtroom Wednesday for the city of Memphis versus Performa Entertainment, and court documents remained sealed.  But attorneys for the city are accusing Performa of stashing millions of dollars in city profits from 2002 to 2008.

"The cost and expense of creating what we have today was significant," Performa attorney John Speer said.

The City of Memphis is suing Performa for $12.5 million, which includes fees, damages and $6.4 million in taxpayer dollars the city says Performa used for other business expenses outside Memphis.

After Wednesday's hearing, Speer said there are no profits to turn over.  The contract to run Beale requires Performa give a percentage of profit to the city.

"What we've done on behalf of the citizens of Memphis is track that money and we've followed it to various sources," said attorney Rickey Wilkins, representing the city of Memphis.

Part of Wilkins' evidence is a financial audit of Beale.

"The audit examination has been designed to try to understand the total revenue collected on the street and to understand where that money went," he said.

At one point during Wednesday's hearing, Wilkins asked the judge if he could lift the seal so the public could read the audit.  The judge said the proper motion had not been filed, and denied the request.

"The public needs to know what the report provides," Wilkins said afterwards.

Meanwhile, there is talk of a settlement.

"I think everybody recognizes it's always better to solve differences rather than sit in a trial for two or three weeks," Speer said.

But just in case, both sides are preparing for a March 8th trial.

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