By POLITICO California’s top appellate court ruled Friday that President Donald Trump’s bid to force the closure of the Malibu Can Drink establishment in the city of Malibu, a popular tourist destination, failed to satisfy a state appellate court ruling last year that required the owners to pay the state $1 million.
Trump and his attorneys, however, argued the restaurant was a tourist attraction that drew customers from all over the state.
The case is now before the state’s appeals court, which is expected to issue its ruling in the next few days.
“The restaurant is not a public nuisance and the defendants failed to show a reasonable expectation of privacy in its use as a public drinking establishment,” the state appellate panel said in a ruling Friday.
The restaurant, which opened in 2010, had no permit, but its license was revoked in June 2015 after a state investigation found that it violated California’s liquor laws by allowing customers to drink alcoholic beverages and serving nonalcoholic food and beverages, such as chips, candy and cookies.
The state Liquor Control Board also found that the restaurant failed to comply with state law requiring restaurants to have a permit to sell alcohol.
In an emailed statement, Malibu attorney Mike Daugherty said the appellate court “totally missed the point” of the case and called for the state to reopen the case, citing the restaurant’s “unhealthy” use as an alcohol-fueled entertainment venue.
“Malibu Can has been operating since 1995 and has a history of providing a venue for people to congregate to drink, eat and socialize,” Daugher said.
“This restaurant is a public safety hazard and must be removed from public use.”
The decision came after a judge in February denied Trump’s motion to overturn a state appeals court decision in which he challenged the state liquor board’s order that bars and restaurants have to obtain permits before serving alcoholic beverages in their restaurants.
In its ruling Friday, the appellate panel dismissed Trump’s argument that the establishment violated California law by selling alcohol.
“No reasonable juror would find that the defendants were knowingly permitting patrons to drink alcohol in their establishments, which they did,” the panel said.
The ruling does not affect a similar lawsuit filed by the state attorney general, who is challenging the state order in federal court.
The appellate panel’s decision was not the first time Trump’s attorneys have argued that Trump’s Malibu-themed restaurant was not a “public nuisance.”
In June 2015, Trump’s attorney, Michael Cohen, argued that the Malibans drink establishment “is not a ‘public nuisance,’ because it is not operated as a restaurant.”
In the two-page opinion, the panel rejected Cohen’s argument, noting that the state law that Trump challenged does not require establishments to be licensed.
“It is not for the Legislature to decide whether a place has the legal right to operate as a ‘restaurant’ that serves alcohol,” the appellate panels opinion said.