- Associated Press - Friday, December 18, 2015

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - The Indiana Court of Appeals has ruled that the largest beer and wine wholesaler in the state can’t distribute both beer and liquor.

The Indianapolis Star (http://indy.st/1YmTuEb ) reports the court ruled 3-0 that Monarch Beverage Co. can’t distribute liquor to retailers. State law says if it wants to do that, it must not sell beer.

The ruling comes less than three weeks after the appeals court judges heard oral arguments in the case. The company had argued the state’s statute discriminates against beer wholesalers by treating them differently from everyone else, including retailers and wine wholesalers, who are able to distribute liquor.

Judge James Kirsch wrote in his opinion Thursday that to successfully claim violation of that statute, Monarch would have to identify similar companies that have been treated differently and are allowed to sell both beer and liquor. The three-judge panel unanimously agreed that Monarch was unable to do so.

Monarch attorney Kannon Shanmugam said the company “will seek further review” of the ruling. The wholesaler can ask the appeals court for another hearing, or bring the case before the Indiana Supreme Court.

The company also lost in a similar lawsuit in federal court. U.S. District Judge Sarah Evans Barker ruled recently that the state law in question does not violate the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution. Monarch is appealing that ruling.

Indiana is the only state that prohibits a wholesaler from distributing both beer and liquor. Retailers, however, are allowed to sell all three types of alcohol.

The newspaper reports this is the second time this week that Indiana’s alcohol laws were upheld by the courts.

The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday rejected an effort to invalidate Indiana’s cold-beer statute, which prohibits pharmacies and grocery and convenience stores from selling chilled beer.

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Information from: The Indianapolis Star, http://www.indystar.com

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