SARAH C. GILDEHAUS APPELLANT
ARKANSAS ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGE CONTROL BOARD and CHRISTOPHER MOORE APPELLEES
FROM THE BENTON COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT [CV-2014-1385-4]
HONORABLE JOHN SCOTT, JUDGE
COURT OF APPEALS' OPINION VACATED.
Wright & Collier, PLLC, by: Jeremy Y. Hutchinson, for
Robin Casteel, Arkansas Alcoholic Beverage Control
Administration, for appellee.
COURTNEY HUDSON GOODSON, ASSOCIATE JUSTICE
Sarah Gildehaus appeals the order entered by the Benton
County Circuit Court dismissing her petition for judicial
review of the decision of appellee, the Arkansas Alcoholic
Beverage Control Board (Board), on the basis that she lacked
standing. Gildehaus also contests the circuit court's
alternative ruling that even if she did have standing, it
would affirm the findings of the Board. For reversal,
Gildehaus argues that (1) the circuit court erred in
dismissing the amended petition based on a lack of standing;
(2) the circuit court erred in refusing to consider the
entire record on appeal; and (3) the circuit court erred in
allowing the issuance of a retail liquor permit to appellee
Christopher Moore, despite numerous violations of the law. We
conclude that there is substantial evidence to support the
Board's decision, and we affirm on this basis.
facts in this case, which are essentially undisputed, are as
follows. Michelle Jameson received Conditional Permit No.
05132 for a retail liquor store located at 2800 West Hudson
Road, Suite D, in Rogers, Arkansas. She opened and operated
her store, Spiriteaux Wine and Liquors, for one day, on
December 11, 2013, when she sold one bottle of liquor. The
Board subsequently granted approval to place Jameon's
permit on inactive status on January 15, 2014. On February
24, 2014, Jameson applied to the Board to transfer her
inactive permit to Moore, who was a friend and a previous
employer, at a new location at 2001 S. Belleview Road in
Rogers. At the time of the replacement notice, Moore already
had one conditional liquor license, permit No. 05013, located
at 2090 W. Pleasant Grove Road in Rogers. However, there was
no building in which a liquor store could be operated at that
location, and Moore agreed in a letter to the Board that he
would relinquish this conditional permit upon approval of the
transferred license from Jameson.
April 17, 2014, the director of the ABC denied the request to
transfer permit No. 05132 to Moore. Moore appealed to the
Board, which held a hearing in September 2014. Jameson
testified that she had borrowed $4, 000 from Moore to rent
the space in Rogers at which she opened her liquor store on
December 11, 2013. She admitted that she did not have a
sales-tax permit on that date, stating that she had applied
for a permit but was later denied it on the basis that her
liquor license was inactive by the time the application was
reviewed. She introduced a receipt for the bottle of liquor
that she sold on December 11, 2013, as well as pictures of
her store that she had emailed to the Board inspector as he
testified that on the application to transfer Jameson's
license, he had indicated that he was the owner of the
premises where the store was to be located. He explained,
however, that although he had originally believed that he
would be an owner of the property, his wife and his
father-in-law had instead formed Eleanor Holdings, LLC, to
buy the building for financial reasons. Moore stated that he
planned to lease the property from Eleanor Holdings.
the hearing, the Board unanimously approved the transfer of
permit No. 05132 to Moore in a decision filed on September
17, 2014. The Board found that Moore was qualified to replace
Jameson as holder of permit No. 05132 on the condition that
he contemporaneously relinquish any interest he had in permit
No. 05013. The Board further found that the new location met
the public convenience and advantage requirements found in
Arkansas Code Annotated section 3-4-208(g) (Repl. 2008) and
in the applicable Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC)
regulations. Gildehaus timely filed a petition for judicial
review on October 13, 2014, and she filed an amended petition
on December 18, 2014.
a hearing before the circuit court on March 9, 2015, as well
as posttrial briefs filed by the parties, the circuit court
entered its decision on April 15, 2015. The court sua sponte
found that Gildehaus lacked standing to challenge the
Board's decision and dismissed her petition. The court
further found that, even if Gildehaus did have standing,
there was substantial evidence to support the Board's
decision to allow the transfer of permit No. 05132 to Moore.
Gildehaus appealed the circuit court's decision to the
court of appeals, which affirmed the circuit court's
dismissal of her petition due to lack of standing.
Gildehaus v. Ark. Alcoholic Beverage Control Bd.,
2016 Ark.App. 160.
filed a petition for review with this court, which we granted
on June 23, 2016, and the case is now before us. When we
grant a petition for review, we treat the appeal as if it had
been originally filed in this court. Holland v.
State, 2015 Ark. 341, 471 S.W.3d 179.
appeal, our review is directed toward the decision of the
administrative agency, rather than the decision of the
circuit court. Ark. Beverage Retailers Ass'n v.
Langley, 2009 Ark. 187, 305 S.W.3d 427. Considerable
deference is accorded the decision of the administrative
agency in part because these agencies are better equipped by
specialization, insight through experience, and more flexible
procedures than courts to determine and analyze legal issues
affecting their agencies. Ark. State Hwy & Transp.
Dep't v. Lamar Advantage Holding Co., 2011 Ark. 195,
381 S.W.3d 787. As with all appeals from administrative
decisions under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), the
circuit court or appellate court may reverse the agency
decision if it concludes that the substantial rights of the
petitioner have been prejudiced because the administrative
findings, inferences, conclusions, or decisions are: (1) in
violation of constitutional or statutory provisions; (2) in
excess of the agency's statutory authority; (3) made upon
unlawful procedure; (4) affected by other error or law; (5)
not supported by substantial evidence of record; or (6)
arbitrary, capricious, or characterized by abuse of
discretion. Walker v. Ark. State Bd. of Educ., 2010
Ark. 277, 365 S.W.3d 899; Ark. Code Ann. § 25-15-212(h)
first point on appeal, Gildehaus argues that the circuit
court erred in dismissing her amended petition based on a
lack of standing. We agree with Gildehaus on this issue and
instead focus on her remaining arguments with respect to the
circuit court's ...