October 7, 2020
LANSING – Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel, at the request of the Michigan Liquor Control Commission (MLCC), has filed lawsuits in federal court against two California entities that continue to defy state liquor laws by illegally shipping wine and beer directly to consumers.
Despite receiving demands to cease and desist the illicit importation, Go to Gifts Inc. and Vintner’s Collective LLC refuse to comply and continue to threaten the public health, safety and welfare.
Go to Gifts, d/b/a The BroBasket, is based in Camarillo, California, while Vintner’s Collective is located in Napa, California.
Nessel’s lawsuits, filed in the Eastern District of Michigan, seek an injunction based on the Twenty-First Amendment Enforcement Act, a federal statute that allows state attorneys general to take action to enforce their state’s liquor laws in federal court. Typically, Michigan law requires beer and wine to be channeled through MLCC-licensed wholesale entities for distribution to retail locations. In limited instances, a manufacturer may ship wine directly to consumers, but only if it is licensed to do so. Neither entity in the lawsuit is properly licensed in Michigan to allow for direct-to-consumer shipping.
“Our state’s liquor laws were drafted to protect the health, safety and welfare of Michiganders, and my office will use its authority to aggressively enforce those regulations,” Nessel said. “I want to make it very clear that companies who do business in Michigan must follow the rules, and my office will continue to work with the Michigan Liquor Control Commission to ensure our laws are respected.”
When unlicensed companies skirt state laws and illegally import alcohol into Michigan, it can have negative consequences, like allowing minors to more easily obtain alcoholic liquor, prohibiting state officials from effectively ensuring that the imported products are safe and eliminating tax revenue that is used to provide vital services.
Nessel’s office and the MLCC have thwarted hundreds of entities’ attempts to violate state liquor license laws. Many of the shippers stopped their illegal activity after hearing from Nessel’s office, either by ceasing shipments to Michigan or by obtaining the necessary liquor license from the MLCC.
Go to Gifts and Vintner’s Collective have refused to follow the law. Despite receiving letters demanding that they cease and desist importing alcohol into Michigan, they continued to ship to Michigan customers.
Nessel also alleges in the federal filings that Go to Gifts and Vintner’s Collective are violating Michigan’s Consumer Protection Act by misleading Michigan consumers to think that the companies’ activities are legal. Violations of the Consumer Protection Act are punishable by fines of up to $25,000 per violation.