OP 17-0677 DUANE C. KOHOUTEK, INC., a Montana corporation, BUCHER SALES, LLC, a Montana Limited Liability Company, NOBLES, INC., a Montana corporation, and SPIRITS PLUS, LLC, a Montana Limited Liability Company, individually and on behalf of others similarly situated, Plaintiffs and Appellees, v. STATE OF MONTANA, DEPARTMENT OF REVENUE, Defendant and Appellant. . Oral Argument is set for Wednesday, February 7, 2018, at 9:30 a.m. in the Courtroom of the Montana Supreme Court, Joseph P. Mazurek Justice Building, Helena, Montana.
Kohoutek and other owners of Montana liquor stores (the Class) brought this action against the State of Montana to challenge the constitutionality of a statute (repealed in 2015) regarding case-lot discounts for the purchase of liquor from the State. The Eighth Judicial District Court ruled that the statute violated Class members’ right to equal protection and that the Class is entitled to $26,156,411.65 in damages from the State, plus $8,718,803.88 in attorney fees, litigation expenses, and class representative incentive awards payable from the judgment; plus judgment interest and costs.
On behalf of the State, Appellant Montana Department of Revenue raises several issues on appeal. It argues the District Court erred when it: (1) ruled that the weighted average discount ratio (WADR) found at § 16-2-101(2)(b)(ii)(B), MCA (2013), failed rational basis review under the constitutional right to equal protection, and by applying a change in circumstances test to render the WADR unconstitutional; (2) denied the State’s motion to amend its answer to include a statute of limitations defense; (3) ruled that the doctrine of laches did not bar the Class’s claims for monetary damages; (4) awarded damages (including interest) to the Class and calculated those damages; and (5) ruled that the Class is entitled to attorney fees under the private attorney general doctrine.
On cross-appeal, the Class argues that the District Court erred in relying on the statute, after having found it invalid, to set storeowner expectations in the takings claim.