News and Tribune

Business/Money

August 15, 2013

Battle brewing in New Albany over website photo

Health department subject of tort claim notice from brewery owner

NEW ALBANY — Already embroiled with the Floyd County Health Department over a permit issue, a local business owner has filed a tort claim notice over a photo that appeared on the department’s website.

The photo showed a department vehicle parked in front of the New Albanian Brewing Company’s Bank Street Brewhouse, along with a posting about E. coli.

Roger Baylor, co-owner of the restaurant and its parent company, said while the picture was labeled as a stock photo, he believes it was taken and posted in response to his fight with the department over temporary food service permits that he and other alcohol-serving vendors were fined for not having at an event in June.

“We disagreed and fought in a respectable way, so I think the photo was retaliation,” Baylor said. “It’s juvenile, when you stop to think about it.”

Baylor said one of his employees witnessed health department employees taking the photo on July 24.

The tort claim, sent to the department by Baylor’s attorney, Brandon Smith, on Aug. 2, demanded the photo’s removal from the website and a “corrective statement” to be posted.

The department removed the photo, at least as of Tuesday, but a corrective statement or apology has yet to be posted.

Rick Fox, the attorney for the department’s board of directors, said he just received the tort claim on Tuesday and hasn’t met with the department’s board to discuss it yet.

But he said to make sure there weren’t any misconceptions about the photo and the associated post on E. coli, they decided to take it down.

“They removed the photo, not in that the health department had done anything wrong, but we most certainly don’t want to give the wrong idea,” Fox said. “If they think someone’s getting the wrong idea, we don’t want to do that. As I understand it, the Floyd County Health Department truck was just showing that they were doing their normal inspections. Those [inspections] are subject to public review, the truck could have been in front of any business.”

Tom Harris, Floyd County health officer, did not return phone calls for this story as of press time.

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