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Competitor lacks standing for judicial review

March 2, 2011

A trial court was correct in dismissing the petition for judicial review from a liquor wholesaler who challenged the issuance of a wine and liquor permit to a competitor because the wholesaler lacked standing, ruled the Indiana Court of Appeals.

In National Wine & Spirits v. Indiana Alcohol & Tobacco Commission, et al., No. 49A02-1006-PL-612, National Wine sought permission from the Indiana Alcohol and Tobacco Commission to be granted status as an intervening remonstrator regarding the issuance of liquor and wine wholesaler permits to Southern Wine & Spirits of America. National Wine worried it would suffer immediate harm to its supplier contracts because it claimed Southern Wine was engaged in anticompetitive coordination in other parts of the country.

The IATC denied National Wine’s request and eventually voted to grant Southern Wine’s permit applications. National Wine then filed a verified petition for judicial review of the issuance of the permits, which the Marion Superior Court dismissed for lack of standing.

The Court of Appeals disagreed with National Wine’s argument that it should have standing to challenge because it was aggrieved and adversely affected by the order and that due process concerns support its ability to challenge the order. National Wine didn’t meet either requirement under subsections (b)(2)(A) and (B) of Indiana Code Section 4-21.5-5-3(b), which defines the standing requirement for judicial review.

The judges found National Wine’s claims that its permits and the enjoyment of those permits is property for purposes of the due process clause to be flawed. National Wine really is just seeking to prevent a competitor from being granted a permit, wrote Judge Ezra Friedlander.

Also, the judges pointed out that National Wine has recourse to the IATC should its worries regarding Southern Wine’s trade practices actually come to fruition. If the ITAC determines that a company with a permit is engaged in illegal trade practices, it has the power to revoke or refuse to renew the permits issued.
 

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