Two Washington breweries just filed a lawsuit against Idaho

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Get ready, Idaho. You’re next in line.

As we reported in April, a coalition of Washington breweries successfully challenged Oregon’s distribution laws, which prohibited out-of-state breweries from self-distributing their beer in Oregon. Non-Oregon breweries were previously required to use a wholesale distributor to sell beer in Oregon. Because of the lawsuit, that is no longer the case.

Idaho is next. Two Washington breweries united and have now filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court in Pocatello, ID. The plaintiffs allege that Idaho’s law violates the U.S. Constitution’s Commerce Clause by unfairly discriminating against out-of-state breweries. Essentially, it’s the same argument as the case against Oregon.

The Plaintiffs (Dwinell Country Ales of Goldendale and Varietal Beer Co. of Sunnyside) are represented by attorneys Robert Epstein and James Tanford of Epstein Seif Porter & Beutel along with local counsel Heidi Buck Morrison of Racine Olson, PLLP. Essentially, it is the same team that successfully challenged Oregon’s law.


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“The success in Oregon affirmed the effectiveness of our legal strategy,” says Justin Leigh, co-owner of Dwinell Country Ales, which was also a plaintiff in the case against Oregon. “We are optimistic we’ll experience similar success in Idaho.”  

We will keep you informed as this case progresses. In the meantime, here is a press release announcing the filing of the complaint.


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WASHINGTON BREWERIES BRING CONSTITUTIONAL CLAIM OVER SELF-DISTRIBUTION RIGHTS

Complaint alleges Idaho law unlawfully discriminates against out-of-state breweries.

Pocatello, Idaho (August 8, 2023) – Two Washington breweries have filed a lawsuit against the State of Idaho to gain the ability to self-distribute beer to Idaho retail establishments.

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The Plaintiffs, Dwinell Country Ales (Goldendale, WA) and Varietal Beer Co. (Sunnyside, WA), filed their one count Complaint with the United States District Court in Pocatello, alleging that current Idaho law discriminates against out-of-state breweries in violation of Article 1, Section 8, Clause 3 of the United States Constitution, also known as the “Commerce Clause.”

The Commerce Clause grants Congress the authority to regulate interstate commerce and prohibits individual states from enforcing laws that discriminate against, or unduly burden, interstate commerce.

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Currently, Idaho Code § 23-1003(f) authorizes Idaho-based breweries that produce less than 30,000 barrels annually to obtain a wholesale license that enables them to self-distribute to retailers. However, the Idaho Alcohol Beverage Control Bureau, a division of the Idaho State Police, will not grant this wholesale license to out-of-state breweries.

The Plaintiffs allege this policy unlawfully discriminates against out-of-state breweries in a manner that violates the Commerce Clause.

The Plaintiffs are represented by attorneys Robert Epstein and James Tanford of Epstein Seif Porter & Beutel along with local counsel Heidi Buck Morrison of Racine Olson, PLLP.

Epstein recently represented Washington breweries in a nearly identical lawsuit filed last summer against the State of Oregon. In that case, after only 8 months of litigation, the State of Oregon agreed to a settlement, granting out-of-state breweries the right to self-distribute. The settlement terms were then integrated into Oregon House Bill 2013, which Governor Kotek
recently signed into law, and will take effect September 24, 2023.

“The success in Oregon affirmed the effectiveness of our legal strategy,” says Justin Leigh, co-owner of Dwinell Country Ales. “We are optimistic we’ll experience similar success in Idaho.”

The “Complaint” is captioned as Roberts v. Gripton under Case No. 4:23-cv-000346-REP.



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