United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division
SARASOTA WINE MARKET, LLC d/b/a MAGNUM WINE AND TASTINGS, et al. Plaintiffs,
MICHAEL L. PARSON, et al. Defendants.
OPINION, MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
EDWARD AUTREY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter is before the Court on Defendants' Motion to
Dismiss Plaintiffs' Amended Complaint [Doc. No. 37] under
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6).
Plaintiffs oppose the Motion. The Motion has been fully
briefed. For the reasons set forth below, Defendants'
Motion is GRANTED.
Plaintiffs brought this case pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §
1983, challenging the constitutionality of Missouri's
Liquor Control Law, Chapter 311 RSMo (“Liquor Control
many states, Missouri “funnels liquor sales through a
tier system, separating the distribution market into discrete
levels.” Southern Wine and Spirits of Am.,
Inc. v. Division of Alc. & Tobacco Control, 731 F.3d
799, 802 (8th Cir. 2013). The first tier “consists of
producers, such as brewers, distillers, and
winemakers.” Id. The second tier “is
comprised of solicitors, who acquire alcohol from producers
and sell it ‘to, by or through' wholesalers.”
Id. The third tier “is made up of wholesalers,
who purchase alcohol from producers and solicitors and sell
it to retailers.” Id. The fourth tier - and
the tier at issue in this case - “consists of
retailers, who sell alcohol to consumers.” Id.
This multi-tiered system for controlling the distribution and
sale of alcohol to Missouri residents is permitted by the
Twenty-First Amendment to the United States Constitution,
which grants states “virtually complete control over
whether to permit importation or sale of liquor and how to
structure the liquor distribution system.” Id.
(quoting California Retail Liquor Dealers Ass'n v.
Midcal Aluminum, Inc., 445 U.S.97, 110 (1980)).
implements its multi-tier system through its Liquor Control
Law. The Liquor Control Law prohibits “any person,
firm, partnership, or corporation” from selling
alcoholic beverages in Missouri “without taking a
license.” §311.050 RSMo. To obtain a license, an
applicant must demonstrate “good moral character”
and establish that he/she is “a qualified legal voter
and taxpaying citizen of the county, town, city or
village” to be served. § 311.060.1 RSMo. These
requirements apply to the managing officer of any corporation
seeking a license. Id.
previously filed a Motion to Dismiss Plaintiffs'
Complaint, which was granted for lack of standing under Rule
12(b)(1). Plaintiffs filed their Amended Complaint, followed
by Defendants' filing of the instant Motion to Dismiss.
Amended Complaint alleges the following:
Plaintiff Michael Schlueter is a Missouri resident who would
purchase wine from out-of-state retailers and have it shipped
to his Missouri home, if Missouri law permitted him to do so.
Plaintiff Terrence French us a Missouri Resident who has been
refused sales of wine by out-of-state retailers due to
Missouri's Liquor Control Law that bans out-of-state
sales, shipments, and delivery of wine from out-of-state
Plaintiff Sarasota Wine Market, LLC d/b/a Magnum Wine and
Tastings (“Magnum Wine”) is a Florida Limited
Liability Company that operates a retail wine store in
Sarasota, Florida. Magnum Wine has received requests that it
sell and ship wine to Missouri, but is unable to do so
legally. It intends to sell and ship wines directly to
consumers in Missouri if the laws prohibiting such sales and
shipments are removed or declared unconstitutional. Plaintiff
Heath Cordes is a citizen of Florida who works as a
professional wine consultant, advisor, and merchant. Cordes
owns and operates Magnum Wine. Plaintiffs intend to pay all
taxes due on interstate wine sales and shipments, and comply
with all other non-discriminatory state regulations,
including obtaining licenses.
Missouri Governor Michael L. Parson, Missouri Attorney
General Eric Schmitt, and Acting Supervisor of the Missouri
Department of Public Safety, Division of Alcohol &
Tobacco Control Keith Hendrickson are all sued in their
State of Missouri, a resident wine retailer can obtain a
license from Defendants which allows it to sell, deliver, and
ship by common carrier directly to Missouri consumers any
wine that it has in its inventory. A Missouri wine retailer
may obtain wine for resale from distributors, auction houses
and private collections. The Defendants will issue such an
off-premises retail license only to wine retailers located in
the State of Missouri. Magnum Wine is not located in
Missouri, is not eligible for a Missouri off-premises
license, and is prohibited by law from selling, delivering or
shipping wine from its inventory directly to consumers in
Missouri. No. other Missouri license is available to Magnum
Wine and Tastings that would allow it to sell, deliver, and
ship wine from its inventory to consumers in Missouri. It
would obtain such a license if one were available.
Schlueter has contacted several out-of-state retailers either
on the Internet or by phone in order to buy wines he cannot
find in Missouri. These retailers include Magnum Wine, The
Wine Library in New Jersey, and Federal Wine & Spirits in
Boston, Massachusetts. All of these retailers refused to sell
and ship their wines to Schlueter because of Missouri law.
Some wines that Schlueter wants to buy are not available in
retail stores in Missouri but are available from retail
stores in other states. Plaintiff French has also attempted
to purchase wine from out-of-state wine retailers which
claims he cannot obtain either in his hometown or in Missouri
and has been denied these purchases.
Wine has been contacted by Schlueter who has attempted to buy
wine and have it shipped to him in Missouri. Mangum has
refused to complete this order due to Missouri's ban on
out-of-state retail sales, shipments, and deliveries. Magnum
Wine has lost profit of its sale of wine to Schlueter and
other Missouri customers. Magnum Wine would obtain a license
to sell, ship and deliver its wine directly to consumers in
the State of Missouri if one were available.
course of his business, Plaintiff Cordes develops personal
relationships with many of his customers, makes special wine
purchases for them, consults with them about wine in person,
by telephone and by Internet, and sells and delivers wine to
them. Some of these customers live part of the year in
Florida and part of the year in Missouri. Cordes has received
requests from his customers to send wine to residents of
Missouri as gifts but was unable to ship the specifically
requested wines because the laws of Missouri prevent him from
doing so. Cordes wants to practice his profession as a wine
merchant in Missouri by consulting with, obtaining wines for,
and delivering wines to Missouri residents, but is prevented
from doing so by Missouri law. He has suffered economic harm
as a result. Mr. Cordes has not applied to Missouri officials
for a retail license because it would be futile to do so
since he is not a resident of Missouri and residency is
required for a retail wine dealer permit. If a license were
available to Cordes on terms equivalent to those for Missouri
citizens, he would obtain it.
Complaint alleges that the portions of Missouri's Liquor
Control Law that allow in-state retailers to ship wine to
Missouri consumers while prohibiting out-of-state retailers
from doing the same is unconstitutional for two reasons:
First, Plaintiffs contend that the disparate treatment
between in-state and out-of-state retailers violates the
Commerce Clause because it discriminates against interstate
commerce and protecting the economic interest of ...