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Cold beer lawsuit fails in federal court

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Hoosiers will still have to go to their local liquor store to buy a cold one.

A challenge to state law prohibiting convenience, grocery and drug stores from selling cold beer failed Monday when the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana denied the plaintiffs' motion for a preliminary injunction and granted the state’s motion for summary judgment.

Convenience stores filed a lawsuit in 2013, arguing Indiana’s restrictions on who could sell beer cold violated their constitutional rights to due process and equal protection. In Indiana Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association et al. v. Alex Huskey, Chairman of the Indiana Alcohol and Tobacco Commission, 1:13-CV-000784, the retailers charged that regulating the sale of beer based on temperature is unfair and does not prevent minors from illegally purchasing alcoholic beverages.

However, Chief Judge Richard Young rejected the IPCA’s arguments.

He dismissed the plaintiff’s contention that the state statute violated the due process clause of the U.S. Constitution because it was vague and not clear as to what conduct was being prohibited. Young pointed to the low number of citations from the Indiana State Excise Police as demonstrating the stores understand they cannot place beer in their coolers.

In disallowing the equal protection claims, Young found the state has a legitimate interest in limiting the sale of alcohol.

 “Restricting the sale of cold beer to certain types of businesses and restricting the sale of cold beer only to businesses that have more restrictions placed on them is a classic example of legislative line-drawing,” Young wrote in his June 16 order. “Indiana’s legislative classifications, which serve to limit the outlets for immediately consumable cold beer, is rationally related to the legitimate goals of Indiana’s alcoholic beverage laws; opening this market to others without restriction is not.”

Both sides presented their case to the judge Feb. 20 and 21.

After the ruling, Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller said the proper venue for settling this issue was the Statehouse.

“The statute we successfully defended reflects the current decision of the people’s elected representatives in the Legislature,” Zoeller said. “The subject has been debated for many years but the appropriate forum for those who disagree with the state law to advocate for policy changes is in the state Legislature not the courts.”

The Indiana Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association vowed to continue pushing against the state’s law but did not specify whether it would appeal Young’s order or mount another effort to get the Legislature to change the law.  

“Our members and Hoosiers are disappointed that the court did not rule to end an irrational, discriminatory and outdated law,” said Scot Imus, IPCA executive director. “There is wide support to modernize Indiana’s alcohol laws, and we will continue to fight for fairness in the marketplace.”



 


 

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  1. I grew up on a farm and live in the county and it's interesting that the big industrial farmers like Jeff Shoaf don't live next to their industrial operations...

  2. So that none are misinformed by my posting wihtout a non de plume here, please allow me to state that I am NOT an Indiana licensed attorney, although I am an Indiana resident approved to practice law and represent clients in Indiana's fed court of Nth Dist and before the 7th circuit. I remain licensed in KS, since 1996, no discipline. This must be clarified since the IN court records will reveal that I did sit for and pass the Indiana bar last February. Yet be not confused by the fact that I was so allowed to be tested .... I am not, to be clear in the service of my duty to be absolutely candid about this, I AM NOT a member of the Indiana bar, and might never be so licensed given my unrepented from errors of thought documented in this opinion, at fn2, which likely supports Mr Smith's initial post in this thread: http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-7th-circuit/1592921.html

  3. When I served the State of Kansas as Deputy AG over Consumer Protection & Antitrust for four years, supervising 20 special agents and assistant attorneys general (back before the IBLE denied me the right to practice law in Indiana for not having the right stuff and pretty much crushed my legal career) we had a saying around the office: Resist the lure of the ring!!! It was a take off on Tolkiem, the idea that absolute power (I signed investigative subpoenas as a judge would in many other contexts, no need to show probable cause)could corrupt absolutely. We feared that we would overreach constitutional limits if not reminded, over and over, to be mindful to not do so. Our approach in so challenging one another was Madisonian, as the following quotes from the Father of our Constitution reveal: The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse. We are right to take alarm at the first experiment upon our liberties. I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations. Liberty may be endangered by the abuse of liberty, but also by the abuse of power. All men having power ought to be mistrusted. -- James Madison, Federalist Papers and other sources: http://www.constitution.org/jm/jm_quotes.htm RESIST THE LURE OF THE RING ALL YE WITH POLITICAL OR JUDICIAL POWER!

  4. My dear Mr Smith, I respect your opinions and much enjoy your posts here. We do differ on our view of the benefits and viability of the American Experiment in Ordered Liberty. While I do agree that it could be better, and that your points in criticism are well taken, Utopia does indeed mean nowhere. I think Madison, Jefferson, Adams and company got it about as good as it gets in a fallen post-Enlightenment social order. That said, a constitution only protects the citizens if it is followed. We currently have a bevy of public officials and judicial agents who believe that their subjectivism, their personal ideology, their elitist fears and concerns and cause celebs trump the constitutions of our forefathers. This is most troubling. More to follow in the next post on that subject.

  5. Yep I am not Bryan Brown. Bryan you appear to be a bigger believer in the Constitution than I am. Were I still a big believer then I might be using my real name like you. Personally, I am no longer a fan of secularism. I favor the confessional state. In religious mattes, it seems to me that social diversity is chaos and conflict, while uniformity is order and peace.... secularism has been imposed by America on other nations now by force and that has not exactly worked out very well.... I think the American historical experiment with disestablishmentarianism is withering on the vine before our eyes..... Since I do not know if that is OK for an officially licensed lawyer to say, I keep the nom de plume.

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