Following a morning of what Mokai attorney Louis Terminello described as “tense negotiations”, Miami Beach and Mokai lounge agreed to a settlement allowing the club to reopen this Wednesday. The City revoked Mokai’s business license on March 9 after a video of a horse in the nightclub went viral.
After news of the settlement, more than a dozen employees in bright orange Save Our Jobs t-shirts cheered and hugged outside City Hall.
The agreement was reached on the same day the two were to present evidence before Miami Beach Chief Special Master Enrique Zamora at 10:30. Close to 11 am, Terminello and Deputy City Attorney Steve Rothstein told Zamora they had been in discussions since 9 am and had one issue left to resolve. Zamora recessed the hearing until noon when both sides returned with agreement in hand.
Under the settlement Mokai admits to five violations and to pay fines totaling $12,150 and to make a donation of $10,000 to Peaceful Ridge Rescue for horses.
Terminello said, “We’re very happy.” Regarding the donation to the horse farm, he said, “We’re trying to show our good faith.”
In response to a reporter’s question about using animals again, he responded emphatically, “We’re not bringing any more animals at all other than the service animals required by law. No more animal acts.”
In fact, the settlement reads, “Petitioner is further ordered to cease and desist the use of, or allowing any animals, other than those” allowed by law. Mokai also dismisses all claims against the City for the emergency shutdown as part of the agreement.
After saying the City would not comment, later in the day a statement was released from City Manager Jimmy Morales. Throughout the day there had been numerous comments on social media regarding the small size of the fines. Morales addressed the overall cost to Mokai in his statement. Excerpts of that statement:
The foregoing penalties are a substantial consequence against Mokai, but do not fully factor in the loss of revenues that the Club endured from the 12 days that they were not permitted to continue their business operations. This 12-day period of closure further serves to deter such improper conduct since, as claimed by the Owners, it did have a significant impact upon the club.
We recognized that there are a multitude of implications surrounding the permanent closure of this business, including the notion that the business does provide employment for many individuals. But we take very seriously what transpired in that club, and we wanted to structure an arrangement that would likely ensure that such improper conduct would never happen again at this business. This agreed order essentially creates a permanent revocation penalty for this business should they ever use an animal in that establishment again. Combined with the expensive lesson of the fines and revenue losses, we believe this arrangement represents a very strong incentive to comply, which sends a message out to anyone else that would ever try this type of stunt in the future.
Then on Wednesday, Roman Jones, Mokai owner, posted this on Instagram apologizing and saying he purchased the horse involved in the stunt:
Only in Miami Beach.