SOUTH BEND, Ind. — The owner of a local bar who has filed a lawsuit claiming he was unfairly attacked and defamed by the St. Joseph County Health Department, says the agency’s top doctor seemed to mock him before and after a County Council meeting last night.
“I feel like he was baiting me into saying or doing something…” Rick Ruszkowski, owner of Finnies Next Door Sports Bar, said. “How can he not understand what he has done to my business, he is not in reality. You’re affecting my business, my income and you have the gumption to walk up to me and say this? I don’t know if he was being condescending or if he is just that naïve.”
Ruszkowski tells REAL News Michiana he walked into the County-City building last night to attend the County Council meeting. When he arrived, he ran into Dr. Robert Einterz (the St. Joseph County Health Officer) in the lobby.
“When I walked in and got past the metal detector he said, ‘Oh hey, there’s my buddy.'” Ruszkowski said. “I completely ignored him, I didn’t say a word to him.”
“We got onto the elevator together. It was just the two of us. I continued to ignore him.” He said. “He looked at me, said ‘4th floor I assume?’ I just said ‘yes please.'”
“While the elevator was going up, he just looked at me and he stated ‘Got your love note today Rick. Thank you.'” Ruszkowski explained. “I said ‘You’re welcome.’ To be honest, I was shocked at first. I just couldn’t believe that somebody in that position could be that callous. To me, he was making a joke out of it. I was dumbfounded.”
Ruszkowski says that was just the beginning of the perceived harassment. After the meeting, he tells RNM Einterz approached his father, Don Ruszkowski.
“I was speaking with my dad and another councilmember, when he came up to me again and said ‘Hey buddy’ sarcastically. I couldn’t believe it. I just turned around and walked away.” Rick Ruszkowski said.
RNM spoke to Rick’s father, Don, who says as Rick walked away, Dr. Einterz extended a fist in an attempt to “fist-bump” him.
“I didn’t react.” Don said. “He told me, ‘I really like your son.’ I said ‘no you don’t.'”
Don claims Dr. Einterz then started talking about a trip he took to Africa.
“He said ‘I’ve been to Kenya during the wildebeest migration and it really is something to see. Don’t tell your son, but I’m going to get him a t-shirt about Kenya.'” Don Ruszkowski recalled.
In a February article by the South Bend Tribune, Einterz is quoted comparing the crowd at Finnies Next Door Sports Bar to the wildebeest migration. That quote is cited in Ruszkowski’s tort claim, which can be seen below.
Ruszkowski’s lawsuit comes after an RNM investigation uncovered collusion between the Health Department, Notre Dame and members of the media to attack local businesses. You can read about that here.
RNM reached out to Dr. Einterz to get his side of the story. RNM included every member of the County Council and County Commission in the emailed communication. As of publication, we had not received a response.
The County Council voted in favor of resolution honoring the health department last night.