DR. VINCENT M. MALFITANO, AN INDIVIDUAL; VIRGINIA CITY GAMING, LLC, A NEVADA LIMITED LIABILITY COMPANY; AND DELTA SALOON, INC., A NEVADA CORPORATION, Appellants,
COUNTY OF STOREY, ACTING BY AND THROUGH THE STOREY COUNTY BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS; AND STOREY COUNTY LIQUOR BOARD, Respondents.
from a district court order denying a petition for a writ of
mandamus that challenged liquor- and business-licensing
decisions. First Judicial District Court, Storey County;
James E. Wilson, Judge.
Holland & Hart LLP and Matthew B. Hippler, Scott Scherer,
and Brandon C. Sendall, Reno, for Appellants.
Langer, District Attorney, and Keith Loomis, Deputy District
Attorney, Storey County, for Respondents.
HARDESTY, PARRAGUIRRE and STIGLICH, JJ.
County Code (SCC) § 5.12.010(A) requires an applicant
for a liquor license to "provide the county liquor
license board with . .. [p]roof of financial standing to
warrant an expected satisfactory and profitable business
operation." In this appeal, we must determine whether
the term "satisfactory" is vague, thereby rendering
SCC § 5.12.010(A) unconstitutional. In addition, we must
determine whether appellant Vincent Malfitano's due
process or equal protection rights were violated when
respondent Storey County Liquor Board (the Liquor Board)
denied his applications for liquor licenses. We answer these
questions in the negative; therefore, we affirm the district
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
Vincent Malfitano purchased two saloon casinos located in
Virginia City: the Delta Saloon and the Bonanza Saloon. At
the time of purchase, Malfitano did not have the requisite
licenses to operate these properties. Therefore, Malfitano
authorized a properly licensed third-party entity to run the
properties while he applied for gaming, liquor, and general
first applied for gaming licenses with the Nevada Gaming
Commission (NGC). The Nevada Gaming Control Board (NGCB) held
a hearing on the matter, after which it issued an order
recommending that the NGC deny Malfitano's applications.
In particular, the NGCB stated that Malfitano (1) failed to
demonstrate "adequate business competence"; (2)
failed "to disclose a significant number of important
items, " including "lawsuits, foreclosures,
business interests, delinquent tax payments, tax liens, and
default notices"; and (3) had significant
employment-related issues with his assisted-living business
and his prior dental practice. The NGCB also stated that
Malfitano appeared to have "significant cash flow
problems." Ultimately, the NGC issued an order denying
also applied for business and liquor licenses with Storey
County. Respondent Storey County Board of County
Commissioners (the Board of Commissioners) presides over
general business license applications,  and the Liquor
Board presides over liquor license
applications. At a hearing on September 1, 2015,
respondents initially denied the applications because a
license could not be issued to two different entities for the
same property, and the third-party entity still held the
relevant licenses. However, Chairman McBride stated that (1)
if Malfitano severed relations with the third-party entity,
"there would be no delay in obtaining the licenses,
" and his applications would "be approved soon
after"; and (2) there was "no reason not to license
Dr. Malfitano except for the fact that it would be a
duplication." Notably, County Manager Pat Whitten
clarified that Malfitano's applications would only be
considered, not necessarily approved, once he obtained
control of the properties.
Malfitano obtained temporary licenses from Sheriff Antinoro.
Malfitano also reapplied for permanent licenses after the
third-party entity vacated both properties. The Board of
Commissioners and the Liquor Board considered Malfitano's
second round of applications on October 6, 2015. Believing
his applications would be granted as a matter of course,
Malfitano did not attend the hearing.
liquor license applications were denied after three members
of the Liquor Board concluded that he failed to demonstrate
"[p]roof of financial standing to warrant an expected
satisfactory and profitable business operation" as
required under SCC § 5.12.010(A). In particular, the
Liquor Board was concerned about Malfitano's financial
stability due to the NGCB's findings. With respect to
the business license applications, the Board of Commissioners
unanimously approved the Delta Saloon application and denied
the Bonanza Saloon application. The latter was denied because
the property did not have fire sprinklers installed, and the
Storey County Fire Protection District Fire Chief stated the
building was not safe.
filed a petition for a writ of mandamus with the district
court, requesting that the court reverse the respondents'
decisions to deny his applications and to compel respondents
to approve the applications. In his petition and subsequent
pleadings, Malfitano argued that (1) respondents acted
arbitrarily and capriciously in denying his license
applications, (2) respondents violated his due process and
equal protection rights in denying his license applications,
and (3) SCC § 5.12.010(A) is unconstitutionally vague.
The district court entered an order denying Malfitano's
writ petition, from which Malfitano now appeals.
appeal, Malfitano argues that SCO § 5.12.010(A) is
unconstitutionally vague and that respondents violated his
due process and equal protection rights in denying his
license applications. We address these arguments in turn.
we review a district court's decision regarding a
petition for a writ of mandamus for an abuse of
discretion." Veil v. Bennett, 131 Nev., Adv.
Op. 22, 348 P.3d 684, 686 (2015). However, when an appeal of
an order resolving a writ petition involves questions of law,
such as the constitutionality of a statute, this court will
review the district court's decision de novo. See
id.; Wyeth v. Rowatt,126 Nev. 446, 460, 244 P.3d
765, 775 (2010) (explaining that questions of law are
reviewed de novo); see also Tarn v. Eighth Judicial ...