Commonwealth Journal

December 7, 2013

City’s case against ABC stalled until 2014

by Chris Harris
Commonwealth Journal

Somerset — Following a delay on Friday, it looks like the next step forward in the city’s ongoing legal battle with the Kentucky Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) won’t come until 2014.

According to Carrie Wiese, Somerset City Attorney, the ABC was seeking a motion to extend the amount of time they had to pull together items for discovery, the process of disclosing information necessary for the other party’s case.

With nasty weather coming along however, Wiese said that they didn’t want the ABC’s counsel to have to make a potentially perilous drive down from Frankfort, since the court appearance would be here in Pulaski, in Judge David Tapp’s Circuit Courtroom.

Wiese also noted that the city’s counsel, Charles Cole, was unavailable on Friday, making it even less sensible to proceed, and also added that Tapp was unlikely to have made any decision that day.

“We didn’t automatically agree to it, but we probably wouldn’t have objected,” said Wiese of the request for more time.

Additionally, the ABC had filed an appeal to the Kentucky Appellate Court that is still pending, and Wiese said it’s likely that the events in Pulaski Circuit Court would have waited to see what happens with that before going forward.

“If the Court of Appeals throws out the motion before then and says they have to answer to discovery, then Judge Tapp can come back and set new discovery deadlines,” said Wiese. “We’re kind of in limbo.”

In November, the ABC asked the appellate court “to prohibit the Pulaski Circuit Court from acting outside its subject matter jurisdiction,” which, it’s claimed, would “cause immediate irreparable harm” to the state.

The ABC filed a petition for writ of prohibition “to prohibit the continued prosecution of an action in the Pulaski Circuit Court,” following Judge Tapp’s decision earlier this month to let the case continue here in Somerset rather than in Frankfort, where the ABC’s offices are located.

Wiese said at that time that these actions were the “only possible” option they had to keep the case from going forward, in asking the Court of Appeals to put a stop to Tapp’s orders.

The City of Somerset has filed legal action against the state to force the ABC to answer how they arrived at the decision that someone should be awarded only five quota liquor licenses and which businesses should get them. The city feels that the ABC ignored its projections for what would most economically benefit Somerset and made decisions in an “arbitrary and capricious” manner.

There is also a dispute over whether county or city population should be used to determine how many quota licenses are granted. The ABC had used Somerset’s population to arrive at the figure of five, based on a calculation of one liquor store for ever 2,300 residents. If they had gone by county population, Somerset could have qualified for over 25 such licenses, which allow for the operation of retail stores that sell distilled spirits and wine, rather than just beer.

Wiese said that she guessed it would probably be in the January motion hours before the ABC case would be renoticed for a new court date.