Restaurants file lawsuit against State Liquor and Cannabis Board

Restaurants file lawsuit against State Liquor  and Cannabis Board

October 8, 2015

Contact: Stephanie Davenport
Advocacy Communications Manager

Yesterday, the Washington Restaurant Association (WRA) filed a lawsuit against the State Liquor and Cannabis Board (LCB) in order to challenge rules adopted by the board that restrict options for negotiating prices. The WRA stated its intention to file the suit last month but the LCB has been unwilling to change its course of action. The WRA was joined by the Washington Lodging Association, Northwest Grocery Association, and Costco.

In September the LCB adopted rules which would prohibit businesses from negotiating price on spirits and wine. The new rules set up a system of uniform quantity discounts for spirits, and strict rules around when and how those volume discounts can be calculated. Businesses are prohibited from taking advantage of product promotion and pricing specials, specifically “family plans”, or establishing a customer relationship beyond a single, one time order. The outcome is harmful and unfair for state restaurants and the WRA believes they will ultimately be found illegal.

“We think it’s pretty simple – price should be determined by the willingness of a customer to pay the price, and the willingness of the buyer to sell at that price, the way it works for ‘goods of all kinds’, as permitted under the law,” said Bruce Beckett, WRA Director of Government Affairs.

In the last two years, the WRA has been in vocal opposition to an ongoing barrage of rules from the LCB that appear to violate Initiative 1183 (I-1183). Throughout this process, the LCB has received dozens of detailed comment letters and heard from more than 150 local restaurants about the harm the rules will cause, including price increases for customers. It is unfortunate that the LCB hasn’t chosen to acknowledge these Washington businesses.

“It was frustrating when the LCB violated the law during the implementation of privatization three years ago. But our objections were affirmed in court when the LCB rule to restrict purchasing options for restaurants was overturned, “said Beckett. “This will be the second time the Board has ignored the impact on small business, and the second time we ask a court to overturn rules that violate the law and impede restaurants and bars from legally acquiring product to run their business.”


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