Attorney General gets ‘Happy Hour’ lawsuit dismissed

SALT LAKE CITY – The Utah Attorney General’s Office ended a lawsuit Tuesday challenging a state liquor law prohibiting “happy hour” and other discounts and tying liquor licenses to alcohol enforcement officers. U.S. District Judge Bruce Jenkins dismissed the federal lawsuit filed by the Utah Hospitality Association after some clarification was provided on how clubs could legally change alcohol prices under the new law.

“This is a great win for Utah at a relatively early point in the case,” Assistant Attorney General Kyle Kaiser said. “Utah is a liquor control state and the state has the authority to place reasonable restrictions on the sale of alcoholic beverages to help prevent over-consumption.”

The UHA claimed SB314, the 2011 comprehensive revision of the state’s liquor laws, was invalid because:

  • The restrictions violate the Sherman Antitrust Act because they amount to price fixing and illegal restraint of trade.
  • LDS Church officials encouraged the bill to be passed in violation of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and Domination Clause of the Utah Constitution.
  • The law violated due process because the restrictions were too vague.

Jenkins dismissed the case earlier in the year but gave the UHA the opportunity to amend its complaint.  The Attorney General’s Office filed another motion to dismiss and the UHA agreed to dismiss its case with prejudice after the UHA received clarification on how clubs could set prices and change their menus.

“Utah’s alcohol policy is a contentious political issue that requires the participation and voices of many interested parties,” Kaiser said. “This outcome is an acknowledgment that the Legislature is the best branch of government to address that issue.”

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