When Miami Beach shut down Mokai Lounge last week over a viral video showing a horse panicking inside the nightclub, city leaders cited an "active threat to public health, welfare, or safety." After all, somebody is bound to get hurt when a fully grown horse goes crazy inside a packed club.
Sure enough, a woman who was at Mokai that night says she was badly burned when a waitress knocked over by the freaked-out animal dropped a sparkler on her. In a lawsuit filed today in Miami-Dade civil court, Alex Furek says she ended up with "severe burns" on her arms and back from the fireworks.
"She said it was absolutely crazy inside the club while this was happening," says Andrew Shamis, Furek's attorney.
Mokai remains closed this week after Miami Beach City Manager Jimmy Morales revoked the club's business license last Friday. After watching the footage, which showed a white horse bucking its scantily clad rider, Morales said he was "disgusted and offended that any legitimate businessperson would think this was an appropriate action to take."
Indeed, Furek says patrons inside the club went into an utter panic when the horse freaked out. The Pennsylvania resident, who was visiting Miami Beach when she went to the club, says the horse was actually carrying two people when it sauntered into Mokai.
"Furek was patronizing the Nightclub, when, without warning, a white horse, carrying a man and a scantily dressed woman, was led by the Nightclub staff onto the overcrowded dance floor," her lawsuit says.
To make room for the horse — which, again, is a large and powerful creature that really shouldn't be on a loud dance floor — Mokai staff forced patrons into crowded areas near the stage, Furek says. When the horse became terrified, she says, everything quickly turned bad.
"The bucking horse caused widespread panic as people rushed to distance themselves from the uncontrolled and agitated horse," Furek's suit says.
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Amid that chaos, Furek says, the lit pyrotechnics fell on her.
"While... Furek was attempting to distance herself from the still panicking crowd, a lit sparkler, hand-carried by one of the nightclub’s staff, made contact to... Furek’s back, arm, and hair, resulting in severe burns to those areas of her body," her suit alleges.
Mokai has yet to respond to the complaint in court. The club's marketing staff hasn't returned New Times' multiple messages requesting comment about the horse video.
The club has told the city it intends to appeal to regain its business license, says Melissa Berthier, a spokesperson for Miami Beach. A hearing has been set for Monday, when the club can argue its case. In the meantime, Mokai will remain closed this weekend while spring-break crowds pack South Beach.