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A 2020 Covid Case: Appeal Accepted
In the beginning there were business shutdowns, then there were curfews.
Justice can take a while. The Highland Tavern is a bar in Akron, Ohio. It operated under its liquor permit for eight years and, before Rule 80 set a curfew, was never cited for any violation affecting its liquor permit. The Ohio Supreme Court has accepted the appeal.
On July 31, 2020, Ohio Liquor Control passed Rule 80 as an emergency. On July 31, 2020, the Governor signed Executive Order 2020-30D, which suspended the normal procedures regarding the adoption of new rules and immediately adopted the curfew.
Rule 80 stopped alcohol sales at 10:00 p.m., in violation of Ohio Revised Code § 4303.16, which allowed sales until 2am.
Highland Tavern immediately began receiving citations for Rule 80 violations – one on August 6, another on August 8, and a third on August 22, 2020.
Ohio Investigative Unit (“OIU”) officers acted aggressively to enforce Rule 80. On one occasion an OIU officer forcibly moved behind the bar to restrain a Highland Tavern employee from serving alcohol. Highland Tavern’s employees verbally protested the OIU officers’ aggressive behavior, which led to citations for “disorderly conduct” under “Rule 52.” Rule 80, allegedly, was the main motivation for the investigation and citations.
On September 8, 2020, the “violations” came before Liquor Control for hearing. On September 11, 2020, it ordered Highland Tavern’s liquor permit revoked at the close of business on October 2, 2020. The Tavern has yet to reopen costing the family its income since.
Highland Tavern and its employees lost their livelihood because of OLCC’s actions. The Highland Tavern employed six bartenders, four were single mothers whose sole source of income is from Highland Tavern. Highland Tavern has suffered hundreds of thousands in lost sales and will continue to suffer injury until the liquor permit is reinstated.