The Second Department, in a full-fledged opinion by Justice Chambers, reversing Supreme Court, in a matter of first impression, determined defendant beer importer was obligated, pursuant to Alcoholic Beverage Control Act section 55-c, to honor the wholesale distribution contract entered into by the plaintiff and the prior beer importer:
We are asked on this appeal to determine whether section 55-c of the Alcoholic Beverage Control Law obligates a beer importer, which acquired its importation rights relating to a particular beer brand directly from the manufacturer, to honor a wholesale distribution agreement entered into by the prior importer of the same beer brand. Additionally, we note that this appeal presents a question of first impression.
We conclude that the generous protections afforded to beer wholesalers under Alcoholic Beverage Control Law § 55-c extend to circumstances such as the present one, and obligate an importer to honor a wholesale distribution agreement entered into by the prior importer of the same brand, even where, as here, there is no relationship or privity of contract between the prior importer and the new importer. For the reasons that follow, under the specific language of New York’s law, the defendant importer in this action is a “successor to a brewer” within the meaning of Alcoholic Beverage Control Law § 55-c, and the plaintiff wholesaler has demonstrated as a matter of law that the defendant importer failed to honor, without good cause, the wholesale distribution agreement entered into by the plaintiff and the prior importer. JRC Beverage, Inc. v K.P. Global, Inc., 2024 NY Slip Op 00067, Second Dept 11-11-24
Practice Point: Here the Alcoholic Beverage Control Law obligated the new beer importer to honor a wholesale distribution contract plaintiff entered into with the prior beer importer.