Kentucky Court Ruling May Eventually Change Rules

The U.S. District Court in Louisville, Kentucky has entered a non-final order in Maxwell’s Pic-Pac, Inc. v. Dehner. The issue in the case was the constitutionality of Kentucky’s statutory and regulatory framework prohibiting the licensing of food stores to sell spirits and wine. The fact that Kentucky has, essentially since the end of prohibition, allowed drug stores to sell both wine and spirits, is what triggered the litigation. The court ruled that there was no rational basis for allowing drug stores (which sell many of the same things as food stores) to obtain licenses but deny that ability to food stores. The ruling was grounded on the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause.

Assuming the order becomes final, the state could appeal, but has given no strong indication either way as to what it will do. If the state appeals, it will be at least a couple of years before an appellate decision could be expected. It is also reasonable to assume that the decision would be stayed (temporarily suspended) pending any appeal. For more information, contact Wine Institute’s Southeast Counsel Hunter Limbaugh at