Reagan v. Alabama Alcoholic Beverage Control BoardAnnotate this Case
Cary Reagan, Jr., appealed a circuit court judgment dismissing his action against the Alabama Department of Revenue ("the Department"); the Alabama Alcoholic Beverage Control Board ("the Board"); the members of the Board, including its chairman; the administrator of the Board; and the City of Tuscaloosa. The defendants' motions to dismiss were based principally on the doctrine of sovereign or State immunity. Reagan claims that the Board and the Department have been improperly calculating and collecting sales taxes from customers of retail liquor stores operated by the Board. He asked the trial court to certify a class consisting of himself and other customers of the Board's stores and to direct the defendants to deposit the allegedly overpaid taxes into a court-approved account for the benefit of the class members, to be administered by the trial court and from which attorney fees presumably would be paid. The Alabama Supreme Court found Reagan failed to acknowledge that the TBOR provided the exclusive means of seeking a refund of taxes without violating principles of sovereign immunity. “And, he has not established that his request for a declaratory judgment is anything more than a claim for a refund of sales taxes and an attempt to mask the substance of the monetary relief he seeks. Thus, he has not demonstrated that the trial court erred by concluding that this action is barred by sovereign immunity,” and, therefore, the Court affirmed the trial court's judgment.