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Cold beer fight heating up again, Indiana convenience stores file appeal

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By Lindy Thackston

INDIANAPOLIS (July 15, 2014) – Executives and members of the Indiana Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association (IPCA) announced Tuesday that they will continue their legal challenge of Indiana’s law governing the sale of cold beer with an appeal in federal court and a lawsuit in state court challenging Indiana’s alcohol law.

“Our members and the public understand Indiana’s alcohol laws lack common sense and we are asking the state and federal courts to put an end to this,” said IPCA Executive Director Scot Imus. “It is clear the monopoly liquor stores have limits consumer choice and hurts the growth of our state’s economy.”

In the federal appeal filed today in the U.S. Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit, IPCA and its members state there is no rational basis to allow liquor stores to hold a monopoly on cold beer particularly when their compliance rate with Indiana alcohol laws is so poor. The U.S. District Court’s decision in June failed to overturn a law regulating the sale of beer based on temperature.

In addition, the IPCA and its members have filed a lawsuit in Marion County Superior Court claiming Indiana’s alcohol law regarding cold beer sales violates the Indiana Constitution.

Under current Indiana law, convenience, grocery and pharmacy stores are only allowed to sell beer warm, while their competitors in the carryout market are allowed to sell beer cold. The law doesn’t apply to wine products, thus allowing convenience stores to sell these products cold.

Patrick Tamm, CEO of the Indiana Association of Beverage Retailers, responded Tuesday with the following statement:

We are not surprised by the notice to appeal. The plaintiffs have spent a considerable sum of money to bring this challenge and pursue litigation against the state of Indiana. No doubt they will spend a considerably larger sum to pursue any appeals after a definitive ruling by Judge Young. These plaintiffs are large corporate interests with deep pockets and have much to gain in overturning Indiana law – even as they admitted in their own testimony calling their gas stations and convenience stores that sell alcohol “profit centers.”

As per compliance data, we continue to note what Judge Young stated in his ruling.

The judge noted that comparing compliance statistics as plaintiffs have attempted to do was “problematic,” “irrelevant” and “misplaced.”

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