Pa. Supreme Court rules against liquor control board in shipping case; must refund ‘special order’ fees

July 9, 2024
Intelligencer Journal/Lancaster New Era

Types : In the News

Individuals, bars and restaurants statewide are a big step closer to receiving refunds worth tens of millions of dollars on orders of alcohol not carried at Fine Wine & Good Spirits stores but which were required to be picked up at the state liquor seller’s locations.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court this week affirmed a Commonwealth Court ruling that made the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board liable for returning five years’ worth of the $1.75-per-bottle fee it collected on such “special orders.” The Log Cabin restaurant in Warwick Township was a named plaintiff in the suit.

A 2016 state law required PLCB to create a system for direct shipment of special orders by June 2017, but it took the agency until June 2022 to allow wine and liquor producers to deliver directly to bars, restaurants or homes. In the interim, the agency collected a $1.75 fee on each bottle that was first delivered to its locations where it was then picked up by the purchaser. The total amount of fees collected will be determined during further court proceedings, but it could easily top $40 million.

“I don’t even look at this as a recovery of damages because they should not have had the money in the first place. It’s like giving back money that doesn’t belong to you,” said John G. Papianou, a partner at Montgomery McCracken Walker & Rhoads LLP in Philadelphia, and the lead attorney in the case.