Latest court ruling leaves liquor license lawsuit in play


BELMAR — A federal judge has rejected a bid by Belmar to stave off an amended lawsuit alleging that Matthew and Timothy Harmon were denied a liquor license transfer because they opposed a state expansion of seasonal liquor licenses.

Reacting to the Nov. 20 ruling by U.S. Dis- trict Court Judge Peter G. Sheridan, the Harmon brothers’ attorney, Roger McLaughlin, said, “We are happy to report that the Harmons’ action against Belmar and all of the individual defendants will now proceed.”

Borough Administrator Colleen Connolly, however, said Wednesday that Belmar officials are “very heartened” by the judge’s dismissal of the suit’s eight other counts and expressed optimism about the eventual outcome of the case.

The $10 million claim was originally filed against the borough in April 0f 2017, dismissed by Judge Sheridan on Feb. 26 and then amended and refiled by the Harmon brothers on March 28.

Belmar then moved again for dismissal of the suit. Judge Sheridan dismissed, with prejudice, eight of the counts but ruled that the Harmons “have sufficiently alleged a pattern of antagonism coupled with timing” for the First Amendment re- taliation claim to go forward.

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