NewsPublic Affairs / December 19, 2018

There's Still Hope For An Indiana Wine Retailer Trying To Sell Online In Illinois

Lindsey Wright, WFIU/WTIU News

Lindsey Wright, WFIU/WTIU News

An Indiana wine retailer still has a chance at selling its products online in Illinois.

Lebamoff Enterprises, which owns more than a dozen liquor stores in the Fort Wayne area, sued the state in 2016 because it allows in-state retailers to sell online.

The company wants Illinois to treat all businesses the same, whether they’re based in the state or not.

Alex Tanford, a lawyer representing the retailer, says the arguments stem from a previous Supreme Court ruling that said if states allow in-state wineries to sell products online, they must allow out-of-state wineries to do the same.

"What Lebamoff asked, the question is, what about not wineries but ordinary wine retailers?" Tanford says.

Tanford says Illinois argued there is a constitutional difference between the businesses that make wine and the ones that just sell it, like Lebamoff.

A district court judge sided with the state, but last month an appeals court disagreed. That means the case will move forward.

The Illinois Attorney General’s office declined to comment.

Lebamoff also has active lawsuits against Michigan and Missouri. A judge agreed with Lebamoff in the case against Michigan. The state is appealing.

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