The Wyoming Supreme Court upheld a lower court’s decision to revoke the liquor license belonging to the owners of the former Town Square Tavern, but the owners are now suing the attorney they argue got them into the mess.
Teton County District Court Judge Timothy Day ruled last fall that the Mattheis Company knowingly submitted false information on an application to renew its license, constituting a “gross violation” of state law. On Tuesday, the Supreme Court issued an opinion agreeing with Day.
“We find no clear error in the district court’s conclusion,” the opinion states.
The decision is a blow to the company, run by brothers Steve and Mike Mattheis, who for a decade operated the tavern at the site of what is now Roadhouse Brewing’s newest location.
The conflict stems from the Mattheis Company’s attempt to renew its license in 2017. Their lease on the tavern was set to expire that year, and in Wyoming a business must have a lease for the duration of its liquor license, which lasts one year.
It’s unclear what happened between the Mattheis Company and its landlord, but the two initially signed an agreement to extend the company’s lease until the liquor license’s expiration date. However, on the same day, they modified the lease to end six months before the license.
The town approved the license renewal, unaware of the modification that left the company in violation of state statute. When officials discovered the discrepancy, the Town Council voted to revoke its license.
Though the Mattheis brothers argued it was an innocent mistake, and that they submitted the application under the guidance of legal counsel, Day countered that they should have known better. He noted that the lease requirements are “stated in a mix of bold and underlined letters on the license application.”
“[The] Mattheis Company had applied for the renewed annual license every year for almost a decade,” Day stated in his ruling. “It was not a novice or newcomer to the process.”
The Supreme Court likewise rejected the company’s defense.
Steve Mattheis said he and his brother “are disappointed in the outcome but respect the court’s opinion.” He declined further comment, citing “ongoing litigation related to the loss of our liquor license.”
That ongoing litigation is a separate case, filed against the Mattheis Company’s former lawyer, Richard Mulligan, for legal malpractice. The brothers allege that Mulligan knew the modified lease made their license renewal application unlawful, and advised them to submit it anyway.
In a response to the company’s complaint, filed in Teton County District Court in December, Mulligan denied these claims. He noted that the district court found that he had never told the Mattheis brothers not to submit the modified lease with the license renewal application.
The Mattheis Company is seeking damages for the loss of its liquor license — which it has valued at $300,000 — loss of “valuable business at the Tavern,” and attorney fees.