State of Utah must cover legal fees in bizarre Deadpool case

Contributed by
Sep 28, 2018

The state of Utah has just learned that tangling with Deadpool will cost you. In a decision rendered Wednesday, a federal judge ordered the state to pay nearly half a million dollars in legal fees for a lawsuit involving a movie theater that served alcohol during screenings of the first Deadpool movie in 2016.

At the time it was a violation of state law to offer alcohol during movies that include full-frontal nudity or simulated sex. The Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control threatened to fine Brewvies Cinema Pub up to $25,000 and to temporarily rescind its license after it was violating the law during screenings of the R-rated adventure of Marvel's crass antihero. The Salt Lake City theater (which had previously been fined for showing other films, including Magic Mike XXL) took the state to court — and won. Utah is one of the most conservative states in the country, and its laws are heavily influenced by Mormon culture, which requires abstention from alcohol consumption.

In August 2017 U.S. District Judge David Nuffer ruled that the law was in violation of the First Amendment and should be eliminated. Now, more than a year later, Nuffer has ruled that Brewvies should not have to pay its legal fees for the case. "The political judgment of the State that it will enact a statute contrary to existing law and risk payment of legal fees is a legitimate choice, but it has consequences,” Nuffer wrote in his order, according to the Salt Lake Tribune.

His ruling requires the state reimburse $474,455.22 in fees to Brewvies legal team. According to the Tribune, most of the money will be donated to the DKT Liberty Project in Washington, D.C., which helped with the case. According to its website, the group "was founded to promote individual liberty against encroachment by all levels of government."

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