When Opening a Liquor Store, Are Zoning Legal Issues Attorney’s Responsibility?

Note: The DearEsq free 'ask a lawyer' site is offered as a free informational service to the public and is not intended as legal advice. Laws vary from state-to-state, and in addition every situation is unique, and relevant facts may not be known. The answer to the question posed below may not apply to in your state or to your situation. For legal advice in your state and your situation you should consult with an attorney in your state who is familiar with the rules and laws in your state.

“My question pertains to a business that I am trying to open. I am opening a liquor store. We were all set to go and at the last minute ran into a zoning issue. My question is should the lawyer I retained to help us open this business have checked the zoning requirements of the property before we were almost ready to open? This has cost me a lot of out of pocket money and I’m wondering if it could have been avoided by more thorough leg work?”

It really depends on what you hired the attorney to do. If you hired them as a zoning attorney, absolutely. On the other hand, if you hired them for something else completely unrelated to zoning, for example if you hired them as a contract attorney to review your contracts with your supplier, absolutely not.

In either case, zoning is such a fundamental issue when opening a business, that ethically, and quite likely legally, you were obligated to do your own due diligence when considering opening a business in that location.

So, is the lawyer responsible? Maybe. Are you likely to be able to get them to be held responsible for your financial losses? Unless determining zoning issues was within the scope of the services for which you hired them, and they told you that there were no issues, and you relied on those assurances probably not.