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Wine Spectator: Retailers Throw Down Gauntlet Against Direct-Shipping Restrictions

September 26, 2016

The book on modern direct-to-consumer wine-shipping law was written at the U.S. Supreme Court in 2005 with the Granholm v. Heald decision. Now, wine retailers are hoping to write their own chapter in the story. Earlier this month, lawyers filed a complaint in a federal court, arguing that an Illinois prohibition on retailer-to-consumer direct shipping is unconstitutional. The same firm is preparing a similar complaint in Missouri.

The Illinois suit, filed on Sept. 1, named Lebamoff Enterprises, Inc. et al v. Rauner et al, states that Irwin Berkley, a Chicago-area resident, wants to buy “wines that are sold-out in Illinois but are still available from retail stores in other states, older vintage wines and limited-production allocated wines” and have them shipped to his home from Cap n’ Cork, a chain of Indiana stores owned by fellow plaintiff Lebamoff Enterprises, but cannot.

“We think that the principles of Granholm apply to retailers just as well,” Robert Epstein, lead counsel for the plaintiffs, told Wine Spectator. “And we’re going to test it.”

While not a party to the suit, the National Association of Wine Retailers (NAWR) hopes the case goes all the way up the judicial ladder. “We would relish the opportunity for a chance like this to get in front of the Supreme Court,” Tom Wark, executive director of the NAWR, told Wine Spectator. “It would be a perfect case that’s on point: Are retailers covered by Granholm?” Wine Spectator has the full story.

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