February 14


Final Briefs Filed as Craft Brewers’ Fight to Terminate Distribution Agreements in Ohio Rolls On

When last we wrote about the ongoing attempts by Great Lakes Brewing and Boston Beer Company to terminate their distribution arrangements with Souther Glazer’s in Ohio, Great Lakes had just filed its appellate brief looking to overturn the order that the District Court entered forcing it to keep selling to Southern Glazer’s.  The beauty of this case results from the expedited appeal of the central legal issues that the injunctive relief afforded Great Lakes in this situation.  Rather than having to put up with the extended schedule and interminable wait that a full trial could bring, the appeal allows a hashing of the legal issues (which are really all that’s at issue here) at a quick pace.  You can read about the history of this case through the link to our last post about it above.

In the latest briefs:

Southern argues that the district court properly found that the distribution agreement’s requirement of prior notification before a distributor’s sale of its business was in violation of Ohio’s beer distribution laws – their franchise act.

You can find Southern Glazer’s response brief here.

In reply to those issues, Great Lakes argues that the beer distribution agreement did not conflict with the Ohio franchise laws.

You can find Great Lakes’ reply brief here.

As the provisions at issue in this case are the basic franchise rights that many states across the country have enacted and the contractual obligations are found in almost every beer distribution agreement, the Sixth Circuit’s determination here (assuming they don’t just kick it back saying there are “issues” and avoid the legal interpretations all together) will impact the course of conduct not just in the Circuit, but likely around the country until and unless other circuit’s chime in.