A judge puts the PLCB on the hot seat for its wine fees to restaurants

November 18, 2021
The Philadelphia Inquirer

Types : In the News

Pennsylvania’s Commonwealth and Supreme Courts found that the Liquor Control Board violated a 2016 law by not allowing direct shipments of wine to restaurant and continue to charge handling fees.

The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board had a rough day in court Wednesday.

A Commonwealth Court judge pointedly asked a lawyer for the PLCB, “How do we get the government to stop violating the law?”

Judge Anne E. Covey was talking about the wine and liquor monopoly’s ongoing violation of a law requiring it to permit wine dealers to ship wines not carried by the agency directly to retailers and restaurants. The agency snags a fee for that, but was supposed to stop taking those payments by June 2017.

More than four years later, the PLCB still hasn’t stopped charging fees, despite a May 2020 Commonwealth Court order — upheld by the state Supreme Court — ordering the agency to allow direct shipments and to stop charging handling fees.


“The government is charging a fee that does not belong to them,” costing tens of millions of dollars, John Papianou, a Montgomery McCracken Walker & Rhoads lawyer representing the wine dealers and restaurants, told the judges. “They need to give it back.”


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