Rhode Island Judge Denies Motion To Dismiss Retail Shipping Case

Judge John McConnell has ruled against the state of Rhode Island’s Motion to Dismiss.   The state argued that the plaintiffs did not have standing in fact due to admissions made during depositions.  The court found that the plaintiffs’ motivation is not relevant to the existence of standing.  The court concluded noting, “Plaintiffs have pleaded sufficient injury in fact to constitute Article III standing to clear this early jurisdictional hurdle.  Naturally, the question of whether Rhode Island’s three-tier alcohol distribution system and bar on out-of-state retailer direct-to-consumer alcohol sale, delivery, and shipment can withstand Plaintiff’s attack is for another day.”  A copy of the Memorandum and Order can be found here.

This case will continue with discovery until April of 2022.

(previous post) Defendants’ File Motion to Dismiss in Rhode Island Retail Shipping Case Noting Plaintiffs Haven’t Been Harmed

The Defendant in the Rhode Island dormant Commerce Clause change has filed its Motion to Dismiss.   The parties in this case have already undertaken basic discovery and that discovery serves as the basis for this motion by the defendants.  The Defendants note that the Plaintiffs lack standing to pursue their claim because they have suffered no concrete or particularized injury in fact. 

The Rhode Island case is different than most since there is no out of state retailer as a plaintiff.  Instead, it is just two Rhode Island consumers who filed this complaint.   Once in discovery the state determined their claims suffer greatly and deviate substantially from the allegations in the Complaint. 

 The defendants note, “As set forth in greater detail below, Plaintiffs’ deposition testimony told a different story; both testified that they contacted out-of-state retailers for the purpose of this lawsuit at the suggestion of their counsel, but not with any intention of purchasing wine. Nor could either Plaintiff identify even one of the alleged many rare, unusual, and allocated wines that they claim could not be found in Rhode Island.

Another part of the motion noted, “both Plaintiffs called several liquor stores outside of Rhode Island at counsel’s suggestion, but with no intention of actually purchasing a specific wine. Further, neither Anvar nor Drum could identify a single instance in which they were unable to buy a particular wine they sought. Indeed, neither Plaintiff could identify any specific wine unavailable for purchase in Rhode Island.”

The Motion to Dismiss has several other examples where the deposition of the plaintiffs undercut the issues raised in their underlying Complaint and support the defendants’ effort to dismiss this case under 12b(6).

The Plaintiffs will have an opportunity to respond to this motion.

(previous post) Additional Retailer Shipping Lawsuit Filed in Rhode Island

I neglected to cover another federal lawsuit by Mssr. Tanford & Epstein filed late in 2019.   They have filed a dormant Commerce Clause challenge to Rhode Island law related to retailer shipping claiming laws that allow local retailers to deliver but not out of state retailers is a violation of the Constitution.  Their complaint can be accessed here.

The State of Rhode Island has filed an Answer and a Statement of the Case. Also, the Rhode Island Responsible Beverage Coalition, Inc which is an association of local Rhode Island businesses has been permitted to intervene in this case.   Discovery in this case is due this summer.

There are over a half dozen similar lawsuits  by this law firm against state alcohol laws across the country.

Comments

  1. Mssr. Tanford & Epstein do not understand that if a retailer will get liquor license in another state, then he no longer will be a part of interstate commerce.

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