Trial Court's Discretion to Renew License If Steps Have Been Taken In Accordance With the Liquor Laws
Does a Trial Court Have the Discretion to Renew a License If Steps Have Been Taken by the Licensee In Accordance With the Liquor Laws In Response to Its Adjucated Citations ?
In U.S.A. Deli, Inc. v. Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board, 909 A.2d 24 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2006), the licensee had four adjudicated citations involving selling alcohol to minors, and the Board refused to renew its liquor license based on the repeated nature of the offenses.
The trial court reversed the Board's determination, finding that the licensee had expended substantial time, energy and money to take the steps necessary to prevent future sales of alcohol to minors.
On appeal to the Court, the Board argued that the trial court erred by considering the steps taken by the licensee in response to its citations, because this defense is not available under Section 470(a.1)(2) of the Liquor Code, 47 P.S. 4-470(a.1)(2).
In rejecting the Board's argument, the Court held that both the Board and the trial court have "the discretion to renew a license even where the licensee has several adjudicated violations and takes steps to make sure that it would operate the establishment in accordance with the liquor laws." U.S.A. Deli, 909 A.2d at 28.
The Court also clarified that the trial court is free to substitute its discretion for that of the Board and find that the steps taken by a licensee in response to its adjudicated citations justify the renewal of its license. Id.