This just in

On Yale & Yale alumni.
Ico print Print | Ico email Email | Facebook | | RSS

Dispute with Yale could land
Toad's Place in legal hot water

The latest battle of the bands at Toad's Place pits the nightclub itself against its York Street neighbor, Yale University, in a legal tussle that could spell the demise of the legendary music venue.

At issue are the club's side and rear doors, which lead onto the Yale-owned walkway that connects York Street with Broadway and the entrances to Morse and Stiles residential colleges.

A longstanding agreement allowed Toad's to use those emergency exits, but Yale revoked the deal in 2008, according to a court decision issued last week. The university—saying that Toad's management refuses to negotiate a new agreement and allows people to misuse the exits—wants a court order barring the club and its customers from trespassing on Yale property.

Such an order would presumably plunge Toad's into a pot of hot water with city building inspectors and fire marshals.

“Toad’s is contending that it does not need Yale’s permission to use Yale’s property," university spokesman Tom Conroy says in an e-mail to the Yale Alumni Magazine. "Yale is still willing to enter into a license agreement affording Toad’s access for emergency purposes while at the same time preventing the improper and disruptive use of Yale’s property.”

Among the improper and disruptive uses of which Yale complains: "smoking, drinking, and littering," according to the November 29 decision by Connecticut Superior Court Judge Brian Fischer. The document doesn't mention "public urination, physical violence, vomiting, drug use and threatening behavior"—all of which a Yale undergraduate invoked in a Yale Daily News opinion article two years ago. The student, who lived in Morse College, called on Yale to buy the "citadel of vulgarity" that is Toad's Place, and to shut it down.

Putting the club out of business is exactly what Yale intends, Toad's contended in a counterclaim that it filed in response to the university's request for an injunction. The club also claimed that it has a legal right to use the side and rear exits, under two different legal theories.

Judge Fischer rejects those claims in the November 29 memorandum of decision. He ruled on Yale's motion for summary judgment, meaning the decision rests entirely on the law and does not address any factual questions.

"We were pleased" by the judge's decision, Conroy says. "Prior to bringing the current litigation, Yale offered to enter into another license agreement to allow Toad’s [emergency] access, but Toad’s current owner refused."

As for the fate of the club that has hosted Springsteen, Dylan, the Stones, and innumerable drunken escapades, Conroy writes: "There is no desire by Yale to have a negative effect on Toad's business."

Filed under Toad's Place
The comment period has expired.