Thursday, August 30, 2007
Ind. Decisions - More on: Federal Judge Tinder rules for plainitiifs in Indiana wine shipping suit
A federal judge Wednesday declared parts of Indiana law regulating wine sales unconstitutional, saying the state wrongly prohibits most out-of-state wineries from shipping wine directly to Indiana consumers.
The law also erects an unfair trade barrier against out-of-state wineries that aren't directly prohibited from making those shipments, Judge John D. Tinder ruled in U.S. District Court in Indianapolis.
The law in question prohibits wineries that have wholesale privileges in states other than Indiana from seeking a direct wine seller's permit, which Indiana requires to ship wine to customers in the state.
The judge decided that the law discriminated against out-of-state wineries, noting that many states -- including the three states that account for 90 percent of U.S. noncarbonated wine -- automatically give wholesaling privileges to their wineries.
"This restriction bars the vast majority of out-of-state wineries from obtaining a direct wine seller's permit," the ruling said.
Tinder also ruled the law discriminates against out-of-state wineries by requiring an initial, in-person transaction between a customer and a winery before the winery can ship to the customer.
"This requirement erects a trade barrier to most out-of-state wineries by requiring them to establish a physical presence in Indiana or limit their potential market to those customers willing to (pay) the expense of travel to their states," the ruling said.
The judge said Indiana's law violated the commerce clause of the U.S. Constitution, and his order stops the state from enforcing the rules he declared to be unconstitutional. * * *
David Heath, Chairman of the Indiana Alcohol and Tobacco commission said the ruling also affects Hoosier wineries.
"They'll still have to verify that the person is 21 years of age and follow that through the entire process, even up to and including delivery of the wine, but it doesn't require that they meet face-to-face to verify it," Heath said.
Posted by Marcia Oddi on August 30, 2007 01:58 PM
Posted to Ind Fed D.Ct. Decisions