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Friday, August 08, 2008

Ind. Decisions - "Love the wine? You must visit the vine"

The subhead to today's Indianapolis Star story by Jeff Swiatek: "Judges toss out ruling that let you simply order online; Hoosiers must appear in person for an ID check first.". The decision is that of the 7th Circuit yesterday in the case of Baude v. Heath. An ILB summary is posted immediately below this entry. From today's Star story:

Hoosiers who want to order wine by phone or over the Internet once again will have to make face-to-face contact with the vintner first, a federal appeals court ruled Thursday.

The requirement was lifted nearly a year ago in a ruling by then-U.S. District Judge John D. Tinder in Indianapolis. But the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago reinstated it Thursday, noting that the absence of face-to-face age verification made it easier for minors to have wine sent to them.

While the ruling is a loss for Hoosier connoisseurs and the wineries that want to ship to them, it was a victory for the Indiana Alcohol and Tobacco Commission and others who argued that the "face-to-face" rule was needed to protect minors.

It also was a win for wine distributors and wholesalers who get cut out of sales when vintners ship directly to the consumer. * * *

A three-judge panel on Thursday rejected Tinder's ruling that Indiana's face-to-face provision "erects a trade barrier to most out-of-state wineries" and determined the provision's impact on interstate commerce was negligible. "Indiana has not tried to keep wine from crossing its border," the court said.

Since throwing out the law, Tinder was named to a 7th Circuit judgeship but was not on the panel that reversed his decision.

Thursday's 11-page appellate ruling also rejected evidence submitted by plaintiffs that age-based verification online is as effective as verification in person.

"It is important to remember that we are dealing with effects on the margin; make it easier for minors to get wine by phone or Internet, and sales to minors will increase," the court said.

Here is an AP report.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on August 8, 2008 08:15 AM
Posted to Ind. (7th Cir.) Decisions