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A Toronto nightclub linked to the drug overdose death of a patron - The Comfort Zone - is suing the City of Toronto and Councillor Adam Vaughan for $11-million over what it alleges is a systematic harassment campaign aimed at putting it out of business.

The lawsuit also asks the Superior Court of Justice to order the city and police to put a stop to constant inspections, searches and attempts to intimidate the club's owners, staff and patrons.

"The stated and clear objective of the defendants is to permanently shut down The Comfort Zone as part of a deliberate vendetta and targeted plan - orchestrated and carried out by the defendants and others - to rid the downtown core of selected businesses, including The Comfort Zone," said a statement of claim drafted by veteran civil litigator Marvin Huberman. It alleges that, notwithstanding attempts by the club owners to maintain a strong security presence and do everything possible to co-operate with authorities, The Comfort Zone has been subjected to "an insidious and unlawful campaign" to run it out of business.

Located on Spadina Avenue near College Street, the club is thought by police to be the place that 26-year-old Andrew Fazio obtained and ingested drugs before he collapsed and died at his home in January, 2008.

Police quickly began telling the press that the club was a haven for drug sales, gang activity and organized crime, the lawsuit alleges.

"To date, this very serious, defamatory, inflammatory and unfounded accusation has not been substantiated - nor have any charges been laid against The Comfort Zone in that connection," it says.

In an interview yesterday, Mr. Huberman said that officials have a legitimate right to try to curtail illegal or questionable conduct, but they have to keep within the law when they do so and avoid maliciously abusing their powers.

"Our position is that they have crossed the line in an egregious fashion," he said. "What they are doing constitutes an abuse of power and unlawful interference with economic relations.

"This is a response to a war on selected downtown Toronto nightclubs and restaurants," Mr. Huberman said. "A legal battle must be waged within the bounds of the law, and combatants must comply with certain rules of engagement."

Three months after Mr. Fazio died, the lawsuit alleges that 100 police officers rampaged through the club as part of Operation White Rabbit.

"During the raid, the police force stormed into The Comfort Zone, using sledge hammers to destroy surveillance equipment, smash electronics and communications systems, causing damage to the premises and property located thereon," it said.

"Steel door frames were kicked down, cash was removed from registers, tip jars and patrons' pockets, without charges being laid against most of the people involved."

Ever since then, the lawsuit alleges, the club has been subjected to repeated visits and charges under provincial licensing laws from Toronto police and licensing agencies.

Mr. Huberman said in the interview that other nightclubs and businesses in the entertainment district have apparently been subjected to episodes of harassment, "but none of them as selectively as The Comfort Zone."

The lawsuit specifically alleges misfeasance in public office, abuse of public office, unlawful interference with economic relations and conspiracy to defame and injury.

It accuses Mr. Vaughan, a councillor representing Ward 20 (Trinity-Spadina), of conspiring with authorities and spreading injurious rumours about the ownership of The Comfort Zone.

Mr. Vaughan said in an interview that he "inherited the file" and that any enforcement measures predated his arrival on council.

He also said that The Comfort Zone draws attention to itself through Internet postings.

"They haven't been singled out for special enforcement," Mr. Vaughan said.

"A number of charges are outstanding and when the dust settles, we'll all have a good sense of what's going on then."

No statement of defence has been filed. None of the allegations have been proven in court.