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Liquor store chain seeks to impose strict regulations on convenience stores selling alcohol

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A chain of 19 liquor stores in Indianapolis wants the drug, grocery and convenience stores that sell alcohol to be subject to the same strict regulations that govern package liquor stores.

21st Amendment, Inc., has filed a motion to intervene and file cross-claim in the lawsuit brought by Indiana convenience stores to change state law that currently allows only liquor stores to sell beer cold.

The Indianapolis chain argued while convenience stores claim the prohibition on selling cold beer is “irrational and discriminatory,” these retailers ignore the other restrictions placed solely on package liquor stores.

Package stores are limited by state statute on where they can be located, what items they can sell, and whom they can allow in their stores, 21st Amendment stated in its court motion. Also, package liquor store permits can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars and can only be purchased through a private sale or a state-run auction.

“If Plaintiffs desire to be ‘equal’ to package liquor stores under the law, they must also be willing to accept the other restrictions that the General Assembly has promulgated as necessary conditions for the sale of chilled beer,” 21st Amendment stated.

In May, a group of retailers filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court, Southern District of Indiana, Indianapolis Division, charging the state’s practice of regulating beer by temperature violates their constitutional rights.

The convenience stores turned to the courts after several unsuccessful attempts to get the Indiana General Assembly to change the law.  

21st Amendment filed its motion July 19 in the case, Indiana Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association et al v. Huskey et al, 1:13-cv-0784-RLY-MJD.

Like the convenience stores, the Indianapolis chain made constitutional arguments in its cross-claim against Alex Huskey, chairman of the Indiana Alcohol and Tobacco Commission.

Again, 21st Amendment pointed to the restrictions placed on package liquor stores compared to those placed on other retailers. The chain asserted the regulations give drug, grocery and convenience stores an “arbitrary and unfair advantage” because they can sell all the same alcoholic beverages as liquor stores with the exception of cold beer.

Because of the tighter regulations, package liquor stores argue that they have to pay more to comply while losing revenue by not being able to sell things such as cold water and grocery items. 21st Amendment estimated the regulations cost its operations millions of dollars each year.

Consequently, the chain claimed the state’s failure to apply the more restrictive regulations on grocery, drug and convenience stores violates the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

The Indianapolis retailer also charged ATC’s decision to permit retailers other than package liquor stores to sell beer, wine and liquor without enforcing the stricter regulations is “irrational, discriminatory, arbitrary, capricious, and harmful to the public health.” The regulations treat liquor stores differently and violate Article I, Section 23 of the Indiana Constitution.  

21st Amendment concluded by telling the court that the regulations currently applied to package liquor stores must be enforced against all retailers selling alcohol and the less restrictive regulations be eliminated.
 

 

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