Convenience stores sue to sell cold beer in Indiana

Indiana convenience stores are turning to the federal courts in hopes of offering cold beer to customers.

Executives of the industry trade group Indiana Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association said Tuesday morning that the organization had filed a complaint in U.S. District Court against the state of Indiana over its law governing the sale of cold beer.

Under current law, grocery stores and convenience stores are allowed only to sell warm beer, while liquor stores can sell cold beer.

IPCA officials said that the state law violates the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution, and that Indiana regulations have evolved “in an irrational and discriminatory manner that favors one class of retail 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.

Members of IPCA include the Ricker Oil Co., Thorntons Inc. and Freedom Oil LLC convenience store chains. All three companies are included as plaintiffs with IPCA in the complaint against the state, which was filed Tuesday morning in federal court in Indianapolis.

Ricker Oil Co., which operates stores under the name Ricker’s, is based in Anderson and has 50 locations statewide. Thorntons Inc., based in Louisville, Ky., has 27 locations in Indiana. Warsaw-based Freedom Oil, which operates as Freedom Express, has six total locations, all in Indiana.

The state’s liquor laws have been the focus of much legislative scrutiny in recent years, especially those that ban the sale of all beer, wine and alcohol on Sundays at most retail outlets.

Lawmakers pushed to do away with the Sunday restriction in 2011 and during this year’s legislative session, but the efforts ultimately were shelved. In 2010, a law went into effect allowing microbreweries to sell beer for carryout on Sundays.
 

Please enable JavaScript to view this content.

Editor's note: IBJ is now using a new comment system. Your Disqus account will no longer work on the IBJ site. Instead, you can leave a comment on stories by signing in to your IBJ account. If you have not registered, please sign up for a free account now. Past comments are not currently showing up on stories, but they will be added in the coming weeks. Please note our updated comment policy that will govern how comments are moderated.