A dozen protesters stood outside Haymarket Whiskey Bar after owner Matthew Landan reopened it Wednesday night. | Photo by Sara Havens

Weeks after abruptly closing his bar amid a social media flurry caused by an allegation of rape made against him on Facebook, Haymarket Whiskey Bar owner Matthew Landan reopened his business Wednesday night, in addition to having his attorney file a defamation lawsuit against a woman who accused him of sexual assault and two former employees who were part of the walkout that had shuttered the bar.

A Facebook user posted a meme on Nov. 13 that accused Landan of raping her in 2013, then commented on the post with a graphic description. The post went viral as more commenters joined in with allegations against the Haymarket owner, and by Thursday the entire staff of the well-known bar had quit in solidarity with the women, causing it to close. Landan immediately denied the allegations and his attorney stated that he would consider legal options.

That legal step occurred hours before Landan reopened the bar Wednesday, as his attorney, Andrew Horne, filed the lawsuit electronically in Circuit Court, accusing multiple defendants — named and unnamed — of making false and defamatory statements about Landan allegedly committing sexual assault and drugging women at the bar. One defendant is the woman who posted the original meme — with the lawsuit stating that the name on the Facebook account is fake — while another is a woman who accused Landan of drugging her drink in a Facebook comment.

The lawsuit also names former Haymarket employees Eric Snider and Christopher Maggio as defendants, claiming they caused tortious injury to his business by allegedly engineering the employee walkout, making defamatory comments about Landan to the media and subsequently attempting “a low ball purchase offer” to Landan for the bar.

Also named as defendants are an unknown number of Jane and John Does, who are accused of both posting defamatory comments online and stalking, as Landan’s personal information was posted along with “explicit and implicit threats” intended to place him in fear of injury.

Insider Louisville contacted the two female defendants listed in the court documents, Snider and Maggio via Facebook about the allegations and the lawsuit filed against them, but each indicated that they were not ready to make any public comments.

Horne told IL that he filed the lawsuit Wednesday because Landan “wanted to move fast and he wanted to send a message.” He added that his client “is not going to litigate this on social media or the press, like some people have. He’s essentially going to hold people accountable for what they say.”

While a Craigslist post on Tuesday that appeared to be written by Landan said he planned to reopen Haymarket on New Year’s Eve, Horne told IL Wednesday afternoon that his client had nothing to do with the post, as it was made by someone posing as him. By the early evening, Landan had opened up the bar, which drew at least a dozen protesters standing outside, some with signs calling the owner a rapist.

Horne said Landan “was wanting to open as soon as he could, and part of it was walking through the legal ramifications of what might happen, and some people who have experience in security.”

According to an open records request submitted to LMPD, the department had no record of any complaints being filed involving sexual assault or rape at the address of the Haymarket Whiskey Bar.

Joe Sonka is a staff writer at Insider Louisville focusing on government, politics, education and public safety. He is a former news editor and staff writer at LEO Weekly and has also freelanced for The Nation and ThinkProgress. He has won first place awards from the Louisville Metro chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists in the categories of Health Reporting, Enterprise Reporting, Government/Politics, Minority/Women’s Affairs Reporting, Continuing Coverage and Best Blog. Email him at [email protected]


Comment

Facebook Comment
Post a comment on Facebook.