UPDATED: Gura tells the Associated Press that the company will appeal the decision in Michigan.
The brewery filed a lawsuit against the Michigan Liquor Control Commission last March, alleging that the agency had violated the company’s First Amendment rights. The move came long after the agency rejected Flying Dog’s label application for Raging Bitch Belgian IPA back in late 2009, effectively banning the top-selling beer from Michigan liquor establishments. The brewery wrote at the time:
“Regrettably, the Michigan Liquor Control Commission and its members have taken it upon themselves to control not merely alcoholic beverages, but speech as well,” said Flying Dog Attorney Alan Gura of Washington, D.C.-based Gura & Possessky, PLLC. “The defendants arbitrarily imposed their personal tastes in banning Raging Bitch, clearly violating Flying Dog’s First Amendment right to free expression.”
The agency reversed its decision on Raging Bitch just three months later but Flying Dog went forward with the lawsuit anyway.
“We’re glad that the people of Michigan are now free to decide for themselves whether Flying Dog’s beer labels are, like the beer, in good taste. Our lawsuit forced the Liquor Commissioners to see at least some of the light. But the litigation won’t end until the Commissioners accept responsibility for the damage they’ve caused by violating the First Amendment,” our attorney Alan Gura, partner at Gura & Possessky, said.
According to TDR, “Federal Judge Robert Jonker in Grand Rapids last week ruled in favor of the commissioners, saying they serve in a judicial function and are immune to a lawsuit.”
Flying Dog CEO, Jim Caruso, tells BeerPulse that the company has not decided whether to appeal the decision.
They are also not sure whether this will impact Raging Bitch’s availability in Michigan going forward, citing that the judge only ruled that they cannot sue the commission.