Florida Litigation Update: Appeals Court Clarifies Procedure to Execute Against Alcoholic Beverage License

Oct 21, 2014   

October 21st, 2014

On September 23, 2014, Florida’s First District Court of Appeal issued its opinion in VMI Entertainment, LLC v. Westwood Plaza, LLC, et. al. clarifying the procedure to execute against a judgment debtor’s alcoholic beverage license.

But first, some background:  Westwood, as landlord, leased commercial property to VMI, as tenant.  Thereafter, VMI defaulted on the lease agreement and, as a result, became indebted to Westwood.  In execution proceedings, Westwood obtained a Writ of Attachment pursuant to Fla. Stat. § 76.01, which provides as follows: “Any creditor may have an attachment at law against the goods and chattels, lands, and tenements of his or her debtor under the circumstances and in the manner hereinafter provided.”  The Writ of Attachment specifically included reference to VMI’s alcoholic beverage license.  VMI moved to dissolve the Writ of Attachment; however, the trial court denied VMI’s request.  VMI appealed.

On appeal, Florida’s First District Court of Appeal considered the issue of whether an alcoholic beverage license may be the subject of a writ of attachment.  In ruling that the license could not be attached, the Court relied in part upon Fla. Stat. § 561.65(4), which sets forth the manner by which a lien or security interest in a “spirituous alcoholic beverage license” may be enforceable against the license. Fla. Stat. § 561.65(4) states that the party which holds the lien or security interest must, within ninety (90) days of the date of creation of the lien or security interest, record same with Florida’s Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco of the Department of Business and Professional Regulation using forms authorized by the division.  The Court also relied on Florida Supreme Court jurisprudence for two propositions:  First, Fla. Stat. 561.65(4) provides the exclusive means of perfecting a lien on an alcoholic beverage license, and second, a specific statute (Fla. Stat. §561.65(4)), controls over a general one (Fla. Stat. § 76.01).

Ultimately, the Court held that an alcoholic beverage license is not subject to attachment pursuant to Fla. Stat. § 76.01. Instead, the Court ruled, in order to attach an alcoholic beverage license, the creditor must follow the procedure set forth by Fla. Stat. § 561.65(4). Accordingly, the Court reversed the trial court’s order denying VMI’s motion to dissolve the writ (insofar as it encompassed VMI’s alcoholic beverage license) and remanded for entry of an order consistent with its opinion.

The attorneys at Fuerst Ittleman David and Joseph, PL have the experience necessary to perfect and liquidate an alcoholic beverage license lien.  If you have any questions, an attorney can be reached by emailing us at contact@fidjlaw.com or by calling 305.350.5690.