Apr 7

Goetz Fitzpatrick delivers victory for micro/speciality beer industry on an early motion to dismiss

In a commercial case of first impression, John B. Simoni and Ellen August succeeded in obtaining the dismissal of a complaint where a beer wholesaler challenged the right of our client, Abita Brewing Co., LLC., a beer brewer, to terminate its exclusive distribution agreement with Garal Wholesalers, Ltd. under a new statute known as the Small Brewer Amendment to the Alcoholic Beverage Control Law. In a Decision and Order issued on March 19, 2014, Justice Emily Pines, in Supreme Court, Suffolk County, agreed in full with the arguments Abita made in support of its interpretation of the statute and dismissed the complaint without the need for any discovery.

The dispute between Abita and Garal involved the interpretation of the proper method of calculating Garal’s “total annual brand sales,” as defined by the Small Brewer Amendment, in order to determine whether the percentage of sales by Abita to Garal satisfied the criteria for Abita’s termination of Garal’s distributorship without cause. The court held that “total annual brand sales” could only “reasonably be construed” as encompassing all of Garal’s brand sales for the 12 months prior to termination, as Abita had argued. Goetz Fitzpatrick is proud to have prevailed in this complex litigation in which we played a significant role in shaping the interpretation of this new statute. Read the full decision here.

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