A federal judge in Salt Lake City has ruled that Boulder Town Council members cannot be sued individually for refusing to grant a business a license to sell beer.

The ruling was a victory for the southern Utah town's council members, but U.S. District Judge Dale Kimball gave the plaintiff a victory, too.Kimball denied a motion for summary judgment, meaning Julian Hatch's lawsuit against the town will go forward.

Hatch sued Boulder and Town Council members in 1996, declaring his property rights were violated when the council failed to grant him a license to sell beer at his retail establishment called Freedom From Religion.

Hatch said he had been selling beer at his makeshift store in Boulder since before the Town Council passed ordinances in 1995 requiring retailers to have a business license and beer retailers to have an alcohol license.

A maximum of two beer licenses were authorized for the town of 126 people, and those were issued to two established convenience stores in the remote community in Garfield County.

Hatch argued that he, too, should have been issued an off-premise beer retailer license. Council members asked him to provide documentation to prove he had indeed been engaged in beer sales before the law went into effect.

Hatch did not provide enough proof in the eyes of the town board, which gave him a business license but denied the beer license, prompting the lawsuit.