Indiana high court takes alcohol wholesaler case

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The Indiana Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case that could decide whether beer and wine wholesalers can also be legally permitted to sell liquor in Indiana.

The justices granted transfer in the case of Indiana Alcohol and Tobacco Commission v. Spirited Sales last week after Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller announced in late October that he would petition the high court to take the case.

Zoeller first became involved in 2014 when the Indiana Alcohol and Tobacco Commission denied Spirited Sales’ application for a liquor wholesale permit. Spirited Sales is an affiliate of Monarch Beverage Co. Inc., Indiana’s largest beer and wine wholesaler, and state law prohibits wine and beer wholesalers from also wholesaling liquor as a protection against monopolies.

Spirited Sales took the issue to court, and Zoeller argued that the state agency had correctly applied the law. But the Marion Superior Court overruled the ATC in August, so the agency was forced to grant a temporary permit to Spirited Sales in late September.

After the Indiana Court of Appeals denied the state’s motion for a stay, Zoeller sought an emergency stay from the Indiana Supreme Court and requested transfer at the same time.

Zoeller told Indiana Lawyer that he is pleased that the justices granted his motion for transfer and doing so will bring much needed clarity to an important legal issue that has significant policy implications for the Indiana Alcohol & Tobacco Commission.

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