Supreme Court overturns $34.9M judgment against state


The Montana Supreme Court overturned a $34.9 million judgment against the state in a lawsuit filed by liquor store owners.

The owners argued that when privatizing state liquor stores in the mid-1990's, the legislature did not fully reimburse the stores for case discounts they were required to give bars. They argued the formula harmed stores that increased their case sales.

In 2015, District Judge Greg Pinski ruled the reimbursement formula was unconstitutional and ordered nearly $35 million damages, interest and attorney fees.

The Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that the legislature did not intend to fully reimburse store owners for the case discounts. The reimbursement formula changed in 2016.

Attorney Jonathan McDonald said the liquor stores owners respect the court's decision, but don't believe it was fair for the government to treat the stores differently.

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