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SLC bar can continue to serve alcohol under a judge’s order after DABC’s motion to dismiss lawsuit is denied

Posted at 4:58 PM, Nov 22, 2019
and last updated 2019-11-22 19:32:36-05

SALT LAKE CITY -- A bar can continue to serve alcohol under a judge's order after she rejected a request by Utah's liquor control authority to dismiss a lawsuit.

Button Down can continue to sell and serve alcohol despite having no liquor license under the judge's order. That's because Utah's Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control had already given away the bar license it took from Button Down.

"We are on completely new ground," assistant Utah Attorney General Paul Tonks, representing the DABC, told Third District Court Judge Laura Scott.

Utah bar licenses are allocated by population quota and currently, there are none available. At its last meeting, the DABC forfeited Button Down's license.

Button Down's owners, T & J Jazz Holdings, sued arguing the DABC improperly took the license and didn't follow proper procedures. Judge Scott granted a restraining order, but because the license was already given away, she allowed them to continue to stay in business under her order.

After a hearing Friday afternoon, Judge Scott rejected the DABC's motion to dismiss T & J Jazz Holdings' lawsuit. She also extended her order indefinitely, or at least until the next court hearing.

The judge said she did believe that Button Down did not disclose to the DABC who had a stake in its ownership, breaking agency rules. However, the question remains if that violated any state laws over bar ownership.

While the legal process plays out, the judge extended the order allowing the bar to continue to sell and serve alcohol.

"The judge has put a hold on the determination. Everyone is committed to following the law ... simply saying while that works out, everyone follows the law and that remains in effect," David Pace, the attorney for Button Down's owner, told FOX 13 outside of court.

The DABC commission is expected to discuss the issue at its monthly meeting next week.