Madeline Island Bar Owner Receives $300,000 Payout

Bar Owner Filed Lawsuit Against Town And Police Chief

Pete Markham (CC BY-SA 2.0)

The owner of a popular tourist spot in a Lake Superior island town has been awarded a $300,000 payout in a lawsuit against the town and its police chief.

Tom Nelson owns Tom’s Burned Down Café on Madeline Island. He alleges the town of La Pointe’s police chief used excessive force in an arrest following a 2014 traffic incident.

Nelson’s attorney Glenn Stoddard said the police chief entered Nelson’s home without a warrant and Tased him three times. Stoddard said law enforcement needs to be more mindful of citizens’ rights.

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“This case, as well as many others, are putting police departments and public officials on notice that they really need to make sure that while it’s important to have good policing to protect the public, it’s also very important to do that in a way that is respectful of civil liberties and civil rights,” Stoddard said.

Nelson initially faced five charges in the arrest, including operating while intoxicated and a hit and run. He later pled no contest to disorderly conduct and reckless driving charges.

Town officials and the police chief did not return calls for comment Friday.