Court Rules for Connecticut and Against Total Wine in Antitrust Challenge

United States District Court Judge Janet Hall upheld various Connecticut laws from antitrust challenges brought by Connecticut Fine Wine and Spirts which most of us know as Total Wine.  In her thorough 40 page opinion granting the state and intervenors’ motions to dismiss, Judge Hall methodically went through the challenges and held: “Total Wine’s challenges to the post and hold provisions and minimum retail price provisions are dismissed, because these provisions constitute hybrid restraints that receive rule of reason scrutiny and therefore cannot be preempted. Total Wine’s claim that the price discrimination prohibition is preempted is also dismissed, because that provision is a unilateral restraint outside the scope of the Sherman Act.

Give the plaintiff’s aggressive litigation history and some potential inconsistent application of new Supreme Court precedent,  I fully expect an appeal to the 2nd Circuit which has previously upheld these same laws in questions.

(previous post)  State Files Motion to Dismiss, Parties Seek to Intervene In Total Wine Anti trust Lawsuit in Connecticut

Four parties have sought court permission to intervene in the antitrust lawsuit filed by Connecticut Fine Wine and Spirits (Total Wine) in federal court in Connecticut.  The Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of Connecticut, Inc., the Connecticut Restaurant Association, the Connecticut Beer Wholesalers Association, and the Connecticut Package Stores Association have all weighed in with separate motions seeking to intervene in the case and oppose the Complaint.   The Plaintiff has filed opposition to these motions to intervene.  The four parties must respond within a week.

Also, the state has filed a Motion to Dismiss the Complaint noting that the challenged laws have already been previously upheld at the district court and 2nd Circuit levels.  It further notes that the laws under challenge are unilateral complaints and previous Supreme Court precedent gives wide leeway for state legislation reviewed under this standard.  Finally, the brief notes the failure of the Plaintiff to properly plead an antitrust complaint under the Supreme Court’s recent Twombly decision and argues that is because there is no actionable basis for the Plaintiff’s complaint.    The Plaintiff will now have an opportunity to respond to the Motion to Dismiss.   If intervening parties are added, the too will press the motion to dismiss.


(previously posted- August 24, 2016)  New Antitrust Lawsuit Filed in Connecticut

Connecticut Fine Wine & Spirits, also known as Total Wine & More, has just filed a complaint alleging that certain alcohol laws in Connecticut are in violation of the Sherman Act.     The lawsuit apparently challenges the state’s laws on price post, price hold, quantity discounts, and selling below costs.

This is not the first litigation rodeo for the nation’s largest privately held liquor store as they have filed lawsuits in other states in conjunction with their lobbying efforts as covered previously on this blog.    Nor is the first time the courts have heard a challenge to these laws.   The state won previous challenges at both the district court and 2nd Circuit levels to the same post and hold laws..

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