Three significant cases involving the rights of Ohio distributors of beer and wine are currently pending before the Sixth Circuit. At issue is Ohio's Alcoholic Beverage Franchise Act, R.C. 1333.82 et seq., and when a manufacturer of beer or wine may or may not terminate its existing wholesale distributors. Given the increasing efforts by many manufacturers to consolidate their distributor networks, these cases are likely to set important precedent for the industry in Ohio and be important guidance in other states that provide similar distributor protections.
The case Tri-County Wholesale Distributors, Inc., et al. v. The Wine Group, Inc., Case No. 10-4202 (pdf), was appealed by the manufacturer last fall, has been fully briefed, and is awaiting assignment for oral argument.
The other two cases -- Bellas Company, et al. v. Pabst Brewing Company, Case No. 11-3417 (pdf), and Beverage Distributors, Inc. v. Miller Brewing Company, et al., Case No. 11-3484 (pdf) (consolidated with Case Nos. 11-3485, 11-3487, 11-3488, and 11-3490) -- were both recently appealed by the manufacturers and are set for briefing over the summer.