A Laurel/Knox County judge and businessman is one of the parties who is suing for part ownership of London's first liquor store, with a trial date set for August 2020.

The case, which was filed in 2017, was heard before Special Judge William Engle III on Aug. 29, who wrote that new pre-trial and trial dates would be set after the hearing. The document, signed by Engle and filed electronically in the Laurel Circuit Clerk's office on Sept. 3, states: "It is hereby ordered that the Pre-Trial set for March 16, 2019 and the Trial set for April 6, 2019 be cancelled. A separate Order with new dates will be entered separately."

The document was signed by Engle on August 30, 2019, which is nearly five months after the dates listed as the pre-trial and trial date. Attempts to contact Engle's Hazard office to confirm whether the 2019 dates listed in the document were intended to be the year 2020 rather than the 2019 dates were unsuccessful.

Gary W. Napier with Napier & Associates, P.S.C. in London and who is Moore's attorney in the case, said he "would have to look at" the document but added that he did not comment on pending litigation.

London attorney Douglas Benge with Cessna Benge could not be reached to confirm the dates on that order.

The Laurel County Clerk's office confirmed that the new trial date is set for Aug. 10, 2020, with the final pre-trial hearing set for Aug. 4, 2020.

Buddy's Liquor opened on Nov. 16, 2016, just 10 months after a special election in which the citizens of London voted to allow packaged liquor sales within city limits. The owner of the store was listed as Terry W. Blankenship, who also obtained the license to sell alcohol at the store, located on South Main Street near Sonic Drive-In.

Michael O. Caperton and Dave Moore filed a lawsuit against Terry Blankenship in 2017, claiming that Blankenship had defrauded them of part ownership in Buddy's Liquor.

Other defendants in the case are Caperton's two daughters, Haley and Sara Caperton. Moore and Caperton claim that they were offered a 33 percent share of Buddy's Liquor, with a document dated April 26, 2016, with "the exclusive option to purchase common voting stock" to Moore for $1 for one year from that date and $1 per share of 333 shares each additional year.

The document further states that Blankenship owns 1,000 shares in Buddy's, Inc. and represents the total shares of that business. It also states that the exclusive purchase option would be exclusively offered to two parties - Dave Moore Jr. and a second option to Sara Caperton and Haley Caperton, jointly.

Although the document is signed by Moore and Blankenship, Blankenship has maintained that he did not sign the document and it is fraudulent. He then filed a counter suit against Moore and Michael Caperton, claiming that the signature was not his, that he did not offer any purchase options in Buddy's Inc. and that Caperton worked for him as an attorney to find a location and assist in obtaining the alcohol sales licensure.

Blankenship's counter suit states: "At no time did Defendant (Blankenship) have an agreement, written or oral, with these named Defendants or anyone else to 'finance' their venture. The Defendant specifically denies that he signed or authorized anyone to sign on his behalf, the 'written exclusive options to purchase 333 shares of stock of Buddy's Inc.' and that the signing of his signature by others was a fraudulent act."

It further states that Blankenship "has no knowledge as to whether or not either Caperton or Moore applied for a license in different cities or for any license, although Blankenship did apply for several liquor licenses with the Kentucky Alcohol Beverage Control Board and received a liquor license for the City of London, Kentucky, and that Caperton "acted as his lawyer in providing him legal services in making such applications."

Other documents filed in the case include requests for restraining orders against all parties listed in the case in examining the others' records, notices of dates of depositions of parties involved and a variety of other requests, motions and orders that have multiple volumes in the Laurel Circuit Clerk's office.

Caperton serves as Circuit Judge in Laurel and Knox counties, which comprises the 27th Judicial Circuit. He currently is seeking election for a vacant position in the Kentucky Appellate court - a position vacated by the election of former Appellate Judge Debra Hembree Lambert, who ousted Caperton for that position in 2014. Lambert was elected for a position in the Kentucky Supreme Court in November 2018.

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