KY ABC Issues Letter Indicating Conditional Approval for ABInBev to Own Owensboro Distributor

The KY ABC issued a letter to ABI conditionally approving their license to become the owner of the Owensboro ABInBev distributor.  The Malt Beverage Administrator noted that this application is “the most controversial in Department history.”  As a result she listed many concerns and questions in her four page letter.   She noted that much information is missing and is needed to process the application  but that “the citizens of Kentucky are not served by a protracted legal battle.”

(previous post) – Kentucky Court Orders ABC to Issue License to ABInBev

Last week Judge Phillip Shepherd of Franklin County Court issued an order for ABInbev in its efforts to secure a distributor’s license for  the city of Owensboro.  The court determined that the Kentucky ABC had not decided in a timely fashion to rule on the ABInBev application, that previous court cases allowed this transaction and ordered the KY ABC to issue a license in this case.   It is unclear whether the discretionary factors in the Kentucky statute are to be applied in this case.  It is unknown if the Commonwealth of Kentucky will appeal this decision.

(previous post) ABInBev Files Lawsuit in Kentucky Seeking Beer Distributor License

ABInBev has filed a lawsuit in state court in Kentucky seeking an order compelling the Kentucky Alcohol Beverage Commission to approve ABI’s request for a distributor license in Owensboro, Kentucky.  In its lawsuit ABI seeks a mandate that the KY ABC grant ABI’s application for a beer distributor license; a declaration that Kentucky law requires the Administrator make a determination in favor of ABI and grant the distributor license; and seeks to require the dismissal of a pending appeal of the local city’s approval of ABI’s distributor application.

This is not the first time ABI has gone to court related to its desire to grow its distribution business.  Previously, ABI filed a federal lawsuit in Illinois as previous posts have covered.

In its complaint, ABI places great emphasis on certain timing provisions of the Kentucky law, less so on the parts of the same laws that grant the administrator discretion.  ABI notes previous court of appeal rulings allowing distributors to be owned by brewers, but does not mention the changed fact patterns such as increased ABI market share or increase in total volume ownership of distributors from 1979 to the present.

The KY ABC had already scheduled a November 21 pre-hearing conference scheduled to consider the appeal from certain groups on the City of Owensboro approval before the time period for comments passed.  Presumably, that is too late from the plaintiff’s perspective.

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