A legal battle is brewing between Pat O'Briens bar and one of its neighbors. The alleged problem: noise. Pat O'Briens is being sued, but now the bar is fighting for its constitutional rights.
"My mother's family bought this house in 1927," said Peter Yokum of his French Quarter home.
The New Orleans artist has been working hard on his latest piece of work. He says it has taken him three years to finish but normally it would have been done in a year. Yokum claims he's been distracted.
"They continue to play their music extremely loud. They have bands that play without permits repeatedly. I tried to talk to them," said Yokum.
Only a few yards from the artist's Toulouse Street backyard sits Pat O'Briens Bar. Yokum has been in a legal battle with the popular tourist spot for 8 years now.
"My problem with my otherwise perfectly lovely neighbors is Pat O'Briens over here who seem to think their rights outweigh mine," said Yokum who hired attorney Stuart Smith to help.
Smith says Pat O'Briens is breaking the city's noise ordinance laws. Court documents filed two weeks ago show that the bar is asking a judge to declare those laws as unconstitutional.
"Pat O'Briens recently filed a motion with the court. Asking the court to declare the entire City of New Orleans noise control problem unconstitutional. If they're successful, then no one will be safe from noise being played at any level at anytime in New Orleans," said Smith.
As visitors and locals know, music and entertainment is part of the French Quarter and Bourbon Street experience. Management at Pat O'Briens says the establishment isn't breaking any rules.
"We don't feel that we've broken the law. We feel we should be able to play background music if we want to," said Shelly Waguespack, president of Pat O'Briens. Waguespack says the bar has been slapped with several injunctions but has never gotten any formal noise complaints in writing. She says the bar even offered to build a sound buffer to ease its neighbor's concerns but the offer was rejected.
"We have tried to be a good neighbor with the plaintiff. We don't have loud music and i think anybody who comes to Pat O'Briens pretty much knows we're not a loud music place," added Waguespack.
Smith says he's in the process of getting a trial date for his client and filing motions with the court to hold Pat O'Briens in contempt of court.