from the District Court of Teton County The Honorable Timothy
C. Day, Judge
Representing Appellant: Mark D. Sullivan, Mark D. Sullivan,
PC, Wilson, Wyoming. Argument by Mr. Sullivan.
Representing Appellee: Audrey P. Cohen-Davis and Lea M.
Colasuonno, Town of Jackson, Jackson, Wyoming. Argument by
DAVIS, C.J., and FOX, KAUTZ, BOOMGAARDEN, and GRAY, JJ.
The Mattheis Company (Company) operated a bar in Jackson,
Wyoming. After learning that the Company had submitted a
liquor license renewal application containing false
information, the Town of Jackson (Town) initiated proceedings
to revoke the Company's liquor license. Following a bench
trial, the district court revoked the Company's liquor
license. The Company timely appealed, and we affirm.
The parties raise several issues that we rephrase and
1. Does liquor-license revocation require a "gross
violation" of Title 12, or a violation of the
"intent and purpose" of Title 12?
2. Did the district court err in concluding that the
Company's submission of a false liquor license renewal
application was a gross violation of Title 12?
3. Did the district court abuse its discretion in revoking
the Company's liquor license, rather than suspending it?
In 2007, brothers Steve and Mike Mattheis formed The Mattheis
Company, purchased a liquor license, and began operating the
Town Square Tavern (Tavern) in Jackson, Wyoming. The
Tavern's 10-year lease was set to expire on March 31,
2017, unless the Company provided notice of its intent to
exercise its five-year right-of-renewal 120 days before that
date. Between 2007 and 2016, the Company renewed its liquor
license annually-nine times in total.
The Company first became aware that its liquor license was in
jeopardy when Ms. Sandy Birdyshaw, Town Clerk, informed it
that its December 9, 2016 liquor license renewal application
was "inaccurate." The renewal application indicated
that the Company's lease expired on March 31, 2022,
referencing the lease the Town had "on file" and
its five-year right-of-renewal provision. Ms. Birdyshaw
called Steve Mattheisand told him she could not certify the
application complete because its lease expiration date did
not match the March 31, 2017 expiration date contained in the
Town's "on file" lease. She requested that the
Company "provide the lease renewal that went to 2022 or
something that would substantiate that's when the lease
expired." In a follow-up email to Steve, she stated that
"liquor renewal requires a lease be in place for the
full renewal liquor year which runs to 3-31-2018."
The record does not explain precisely what occurred between
the Company and its landlord. In any event, the Company had
not secured the anticipated five-year lease extension when it
submitted its December 2016 application and failed to ever do
so. Worried about the future of its business, the Company
hired attorney Richard Mulligan to assist with the
dispute. The Company told Mr. Mulligan that it
needed to have a lease through March 31, 2018, to renew its
liquor license and that it was important that the Tavern
remain open during Jackson's summer "prime
season," which would require having a lease until at
least October 31, 2017. Mr. Mulligan and the landlord's
attorney attempted to reach an agreement over the next
Meanwhile, uncertain of whether the Company would secure a
new lease before the license expired on March 31, 2017, Steve
asked Ms. Birdyshaw what he could do to preserve it. Ms.
Birdyshaw informed Steve that the Company could transfer the
license to another location on a non-operational status for
up to two years and transfer it back to the Tavern location
when the Company secured a new lease. Steve also confirmed
with the Wyoming Liquor Division (Division) that it was
possible to "park" a liquor license on
non-operational status for up to two years. On February 1,
2017, the Company submitted a transfer application to the
Town, explaining that it was parking the license at another
location on non-operational status due to a lease dispute
with its landlord. The Town Council approved the transfer.
Eventually, the Company and its landlord reached an
agreement. On March 3, 2017, the parties executed a lease
with a term from April 1, 2017, to March 31, 2018. The same
day, the parties executed a "Modification of Lease
Term" that reduced the term to a seven-month period
ending on October 31, 2017. Three days later, Steve and Mike
executed an application to transfer the liquor license back
to the Tavern location. The Company stated that the Tavern
lease expired on March 31, 2018, directly above the
application provision: "NOTE: Please submit a copy of
the lease with the application. W.S. 12-4-103(a)(iii)
requires the lease be valid THROUGH the TERM OF
THE LICENSE . . . ." (Emphasis in original.) Steve
and Mike signed, and Mr. Mulligan notarized, the application
directly beneath its "Oath or Verification"
section, which stated: "Under penalty of perjury,
and the possible revocation or cancellation of the
license, I swear the above stated facts, are true and
accurate." (Emphasis in original.) Steve and Mike
each signed affidavits authorizing the Town to conduct
investigations into the truth of the information in the
application, both of which stated: "The applicant hereby
agrees to comply fully with the rules and regulations of the
Town of Jackson governing the license/permit requested."
Mr. Mulligan also notarized these documents. The same day,
the Company submitted the application to the Town, attaching
the one-year lease and the affidavits, among other required
documents. It did not submit the modification that shortened
the lease term to October 31, 2017.
The Town Council approved the transfer application, and the
Tavern conducted business throughout the summer of 2017.
During that period, the Tavern's landlord entered into a
new lease agreement with a local restaurateur, set to begin
after the Tavern's modified lease expired on October 31,
2017. In August 2017, the future tenant applied to the Town
for a liquor license. Ms. Birdyshaw noticed that the
application cited the Tavern address as its place of business
and became "concerned that there might be a lease
issue" because she "thought there was a one year
lease in place with The Mattheis Company." She emailed
Steve, saying that the application "kind of took us 
by surprise," and requested that he share any plans the
Company had for its liquor license. She reminded him that the
Company must have a written lease for the duration of the
liquor-license period and asked him to confirm the
Company's last occupancy date.
In the meantime, the future tenant's attorney gave Ms.
Birdyshaw a copy of the "Modification of Lease
Term" that changed the term expiration to October 31,
2017. The Town sent the Company a letter notifying it that,
unless the Company provided evidence disproving the
inconsistency between its March 2017 application and the
lease modification, it would initiate revocation proceedings.
The Company admitted the inconsistency, but asked the Town
Council for leniency, asserting they "had no idea that
we were signing something that would jeopardize our business
or our liquor license. We wouldn't knowingly sign
documents with false information, nor would our attorney
allow us to do so (and he in fact notarized all
The Town filed an action to revoke the Company's liquor
license,  arguing that its omission of the lease
modification from its March 2017 application amounted to a
"gross violation" of Title 12 and that it violated
the "intent and purpose" of Title 12. See
Wyo. Stat. Ann. §§ 12-1-101 to 12-10-102
(LexisNexis 2017). The Company admitted that its March 2017
application contained false information but argued that it
had neither committed a "gross violation" of Title
12 nor violated the Title's "intent and
purpose" because its mistake was not purposeful or
flagrant and because it had acted under the advice of
counsel. It also requested that the district court ...