News Room






Wegmans Up-Date

April 30, 2010

On April 14, 2010 the Pennsylvania Supreme Court heard oral argument in the Wegmans case. Representing MBDA was Robert B. Hoffman of Eckert Seamans law firm, who had successfully argued the Sheetz case for MBDA before the same Court in 2008. Robert Heim of the Dechert law firm was brought in to argue on behalf of Wegmans.

It was an active court with the justices asking many questions of all parties. Those questions focused on whether it was sufficient that the Wegmans' Market Cafes qualify as a restaurant and whether the fact that they were part and parcel of and located within Wegmans made any difference. MBDA argued that the PLCB needed to look at the economic reality of the beer sales, which indicate that Wegmans Supermarket, not Wegmans Restaurant, is making the sales. Wegmans responded that it is within the PLCB's discretion to decide if interconnections between a supermarket and a restaurant disqualify a restaurant from holding a license to sell take-out beer. Wegmans contention is critical because, if correct, the standard of review that the Supreme Court must apply is to determine if the PLCB abused its discretion. The Supreme Court cannot simply substitute its own judgment for that of the PLCB's. However, if as MBDA contends, the issue is not one of abuse of discretion but simply whether or not the Liquor Code allows supermarkets to sell beer, which is what Wegmans Supermarket is doing, then the Supreme Court can apply its own analysis of whether or not the PLCB correctly interpreted the Liquor Code in reaching its decision to allow Wegmans to have a license.

MBDA made a very strong argument, both factual, during the multiple Wegmans hearings that stretched over two years and still continue today with regard to other supermarket chains, and legal, as to why Wegmans is not entitled to a license. We believe the Court will carefully consider all the issues raised and issue its decision by late 2010.

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