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Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Ind. Courts - "Convenience Stores Pursue Legal Action to be able to Sell Cold Beer"

From the press release:

INDIANAPOLIS (May 14, 2013) – Executives and members of the Indiana Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association (IPCA), a statewide trade association, announced today that they have filed a complaint in U.S. District Court against the State of Indiana challenging the law governing the sale of cold beer.

Under current law, convenience, grocery and pharmacy stores are only allowed to sell beer warm, while their competitors in the carryout market are allowed to sell beer cold.

IPCA and three of its members - Ricker’s, Thorntons and Freedom Express – claim this Indiana law violates the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution by restricting convenience, grocery and pharmacy stores to selling beer only at room temperature. In the complaint, the plaintiffs charge that Indiana statutes and regulations have evolved into an irrational and discriminatory regulatory regime that favors one class of retailer over another.

“This lawsuit is about fairness, convenience, and promoting competition for the sale of cold beer in a rational and responsible way so that my members can serve their customers,” said IPCA Executive Director Scot Imus. “We are confident that the court will agree with us that it is not the job of government to pick winners and losers in the marketplace.”

Indiana is the only state in the country that regulates beer sales based on temperature. The current law doesn’t apply to wine products, thus allowing convenience stores to sell these products cold. On average wine products, including wine coolers, contain higher levels of alcohol compared to beer.

Here is the 19-page complaint, filed today. The file size is quite large (3.06 MB) because it contains color photos. It begins:
Indiana statutes and regulations create an irrational and discriminatory regulatory regime that prevents certain qualified retail permit holders — such as grocery and convenience stores — from selling refrigerated beer, while allowing the sales at package liquor stores. This arbitrary distinction among licensed beer sellers does not advance any rational public policy goal. In fact, this discriminatory treatment violates the state and federal constitutions and prevents grocery and convenience stores from participating in the growing market for craft beer sales. Further, the resulting lack of competition hurts consumers who must pay higher prices. The prohibition against cold beer sales should not apply to plaintiffs as a matter of federal and state constitutional law.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on May 14, 2013 01:37 PM
Posted to Indiana Courts