COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) — A Muscogee County State Court jury awarded owners of a Columbus liquor store more than $573,000 dollars in compensatory damages, punitive damages, and attorneys fees Tuesday in a lawsuit against a competitor.
The jury deliberated for about 30 minutes before returning a verdict finding that The Bottle Shop LLC was wrongfully closed in 2017 when a competitor, P&J Beverage Corporation, filed a Superior Court lawsuit claiming the Bradley Park store was too close to a school. Under Georgia law, liquor stores had to be more than 600 feet from a school.
A Bibb County Superior Court judge sitting in after all of the Muscogee County judges recused themselves agreed that a nearby daycare was a school and shut down The Bottle Shop in April 2017. The liquor store was closed for eight days until it was allowed to reopen while the Court of Appeals considered the matter.
In February 2018, the state Court of Appeals reversed the lower-court decision, siding with the owners of The Bottle Shop that the nearby daycare center was not a school.
The Bottle Shop attorneys argued that P&J Beverage had filed abusive litigation and a wrongful injunction that cost their clients money. And those were the claims for the civil suit The Bottle Shop filed against P&J Beverage Corporation after the Court of Appeals ruling.
The Bottle Shop owner Miles Jordan issued the following statement Wednesday morning:
“We are very pleased with the jury’s decision and hope that this matter, which has been a cloud over us for approaching six years, has finally come to an end. Throughout this process, we were confident in the legal system and feel that the jury’s decision justifies our confidence. Any further inquiries should be directed to our attorneys.”
Here’s what his attorney had to say:
“We are pleased with the jury’s thoughtful decision,” said Bottle Shop attorney Travis Hargrove.
The jury awarded the owners of The Bottle Shop $175,471.51 in compensatory damages for lost business and wages; $300,000 in punitive damages; and $98,050 in attorney’s fees.
Under Georgia law, punitive damages are decided after a verdict for the plaintiff is delivered. It took the jury about 10 minutes to determine the punitive damages after the two-day trial.
P&J Beverage Corp., owns Uptown Wine & Spirits. Attorney Steve Hodges declined comment Tuesday night.