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Legal Briefs filed supporting MBDA in Gas Prohibition Case

May 10, 2016


Three separate briefs (arguments to the court) were filed with the Pennsylvania Supreme Court last week on behalf of MBDA’s position in support of a literal reading of the Liquor Code’s “gas prohibition” intended to prohibit convenience stores and groceries that sell gasoline from holding a liquor license. 

This effort is funded by our members contributions to the MBDA Legal Defense Fund.

MBDA’s 365 page brief was filed by its legal team arguing that the Liquor Code, which prohibits the sale of vehicle fuel and alcoholic beverages from the same “place, property or location”, prohibits the LCB from issuing licenses to convenience stores and grocery stores that have gasoline pumps.  On MBDA’s application the Supreme Court has agreed to reconsider a prior Commonwealth Court decision.

Briefs were also filed in support of our position as a “Friend of the Court” on behalf of two other important entities:

  • United Food and Commercial Workers, Local 1776, AFL-CIO; and
  • American Beverage Licensees Association, Bethesda, MD.

The brief of Local 1776 made two additional points in addition to adopting the “well-reasoned arguments of the Appellants [MBDA] which challenged the interpretation of the Liquor Code offered by the Commonwealth Court”.  The additions were:

  1. The legislative history of the law makes clear the “General Assembly clearly understood the legislative purpose of those amendments was to restrict, not expand, the sale of alcohol in the Commonwealth” and thus the “Commonwealth Court’s decision flies in the face of this clear understanding”.
  2. Medical and scientific studies support the General Assembly purpose to restrict the sale of alcohol and that “research demonstrates that the liberalization of the sale of alcohol results in greater social costs – costs that are lessened by such reasonable restrictions” as the gas prohibition.

The brief filed by the ABL made the important argument that those who have invested in the alcoholic beverage business need “to rely on the clearly expressed public policy of a legislature – through a plain-language interpretation of the unambiguous words.”  ABL notes that “improper interpretation” prevents stability and creates “both greater uncertainty and unfair rules of competition for businesses.” 

 Our attorneys have noted that there is a process by which others can still file as a “Friend of the Court”.  

 
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