Wednesday, March 30, 2016

City Responds to Lawsuit Filed Over Hispanic Grocery Store Beer Permit

Posted By on Wed, Mar 30, 2016 at 4:02 PM

click to enlarge Guadalupe Tienda Hispana
  • Guadalupe Tienda Hispana
A Berclair-area grocery store owner who filed a lawsuit against the city to obtain a beer permit "was the victim of a lawyer who filed an expensive but frivolous federal lawsuit," according to new information from the city of Memphis attorney's office and permit's office.

Honduras native and long-time Memphis resident Marco Sabillon filed a lawsuit back in November, alleging that the city ordinance that prevents beer sales within a 250-foot radius of a church or school is discriminatory. Sabillon, who purchased Guadalupe Tienda Hispana at 658 Stratford two years ago, had been operating it without beer sales, but he said business was slow because he couldn't sell beer, due to his proximity to Grimes Memorial United Methodist Church. In order to obtain a permit, his attorney Drayton Berkley filed a lawsuit.

On March 10th, the Flyer ran a story about Sabillon's lawsuit, which was eventually dismissed by the court. The city permits office didn't respond to the Flyer's request for an interview until after press time, but the office reached out this week to weigh in on the lawsuit.

According to the city, Sabillon did not need to file suit because if beer sales are less than 10 percent of the store's total gross sales, he would be exempt from the church proximity restriction. That exemption was added to the city's beer ordinance in 2012. The Flyer's story erroneously reported that Sabillon was granted a permit because of the lawsuit.

"The pending lawsuit played no part in the granting of Mr. Sabillion's beer permit application. His application was approved because he qualified for it," according to a statement prepared by the city's attorney's office. 

"Obtaining a beer permit is a relatively simple process, and an attorney is not required. The vast majority of beer permit holders obtain their permit without the services of a lawyer," continues the statement.

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