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The Mousetrap was a restaurant on the Corner in the late 20th century. The restaurant was known for a billing system where patrons' orders were recorded on a red ticket. [1]

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Bar tab dispute

On February 29, 1980, Denis O'Brien and the owners of the restaurant got into a dispute over the $5 fee charged if a ticket was lost. O'Brien refused to pay. The restaurant won a $64,000 judgment against O'Brien but he still refused to pay. The police were called and O'Brien was arrested. A magistrate did not charge him. O'Brien demanded an apology but did not get one. The Mousetrap's lawyer told O'Brien "you had better get a superb lawyer if you are to avoid serious liability and expense to yourself." [2]

O'Brien filed two false-arrest lawsuits but both were thrown out. The owner at the time was Diane Brubaker. [3] The Mousetrap filed a countersuit alleging malicious intent in a flier campaign seeking stories from others affected by the red ticket policy.

O'Brien moved to New Zealand in 1984 and thought the legal situation had been resolved. It had not and a court had ruled in the Mousetrap's favor. An officer of the court served him with papers demanding $60,000 in payment. Brubaker blamed O'Brien's campaign for the restaurant's closure in 1983. [2]

In the spring of 1996, O'Brien was ordered by Circuit Court Judge Joseph F. Spinella to pay $6,000 for filing frivolous lawsuits. [4]


  1. Web. Living history: Charlottesville restaurants we miss (and those we’ll go on loving forever), C-VILLE Writers, Knife & Work, C-Ville Weekly, April 7, 2016, retrieved October 3, 2020.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Web. COSTLY TAB: RESTAURANT BILL EXCEEDS $165,000, News Article, Washington Post, April 29, 1991, retrieved October 3, 2020.
  3. Web. Bill Grows and Grows Over Disputed Bar Tab, News Article, Associated Press, December 10, 1993, retrieved October 3, 2020.
  4. Web. Man Gets Big Bill in 16-year Legal Fight, News Article, Associated Press, April 30, 1996, retrieved October 3, 2020.

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