After being denied a hearing before the Kentucky Alcoholic Beverage Control Board, a Richmond liquor store operator has now filed a lawsuit asking that a state judge stop the issuance of any more package liquor licenses in Corbin, and essentially force at least temporary closure of stores already open in the city.
Attorneys filed the lawsuit on behalf of C. Wesley Morgan, owner of Liquor World, in Franklin Circuit Court last Tuesday. Morgan was one of 12 applicants who sought a license to open a package liquor store in Corbin after voters approved a referendum in February allowing expanded alcohol sales.
Morgan, who operates Liquor World stores in Richmond and Manchester, had planned to build an 11,200 square foot store in south Corbin on Cumberland Falls Hwy. if granted a license. He was denied.
Morgan had originally asked that the Kentucky Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) grant him an evidentiary hearing before its three-member board to determine if the three successful applicants – Liquor Mart, Liquor King and Ernie’s Wine and Spirits – had deficiencies in their applications. He claimed in an affidavit provided to the ABC that all three had issues that could or should prevent them from being granted licenses.
According to Dick Brown, Executive Director of Communications and Public Outreach for the state cabinet that includes the Office of Alcoholic Beverage Control, ABC staff reviewed all the applications in the wake of Morgan’s complaint and found no irregularities.
The owners of each of the three stores denied any irregularities as well.
In the lawsuit filed last week, Morgan reiterates many of the same claims.
Essentially the lawsuit alleges that:
• That lease for Liquor Mart’s location at the old Dairy Queen building at the Trademart Shopping Center was in violation of ABC rules because it did not contain the names of all the principal investors in the business as provided on its license application. The lease only contained the names of Jack Taylor and his wife Jill. Liquor Mart is owned by Jack Taylor, Frank Shoop and Derrick Sears.
• Ernie Durham and his son Kevin Durham, owners of Ernie’s Wine and Spirits, to be constructed behind Applebee’s off Cumberland Falls Hwy., should not be granted a license because the duo failed to advertise their intent to seek a license in the local newspaper of record, the News Journal, in a timely manner. Also, that the lease for the property is fraudulent because it was essentially made between a property management company created by the Durhams and themselves. The store the two plan to build has not yet broken ground.
• Liquor King owners Bill Smith and Wanda Simons should have their license suspended because, the lawsuit claims, they did not pay local license application fees with a certified check. Simons and Smith both deny they were legally required to pay the fee with a certified check.
• Further, the lawsuit alleges that the Durhams, Shoop, Jack and his brother Paul Taylor purposefully created three separate legal entities and applied for package liquor store licenses "in an effort to monopolize the local market."
The successful applicants have all denied any wrongdoing.
The lawsuit names the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control and Daniel Reed, in his official capacity as Distilled Spirits Administrator, as defendants.
No formal response has yet been filed.
The lawsuit was accompanied by a motion and memorandum of support for a temporary injunction until the matter is settled.
Both Liquor Mart and Liquor King are currently open for business.
Kevin Durham said he hopes to break ground on Ernie’s Spirits in the near future.