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Attorney General Nessel Secures Federal Injunction, Fines in Settlements with Illegal Alcohol Shippers
February 12, 2021
LANSING – Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel has secured significant fines and permanent injunctions against two companies that have been illegally shipping liquor to Michigan consumers.
Judges in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan entered consent judgments against Vintner’s Collective LLC and Go to Gifts Inc. on Feb. 5 and Feb. 8, respectively. Nessel had sued the companies under the 21st Amendment Enforcement Act and Michigan’s Consumer Protection Act. Through their illegal shipments of liquor, the two defendants had evaded Michigan’s three-tier liquor distribution system that protects Michigan residents. This was discovered and confirmed by the Enforcement Division of the Michigan Liquor Control Commission (MLCC) that works closely with the Attorney General’s Alcohol and Gambling Enforcement Division.
“All we ask of those entities shipping alcohol into Michigan is to follow our laws,” said Attorney General Nessel. “When they choose instead to disregard our regulations, they may have to answer to a federal lawsuit where a judgment will be imposed against them along with damages for their violations.”
The settlements prohibit the defendants from continuing to ship liquor into the state of Michigan unless they obtain proper licensing or are otherwise eligible. The companies must also prevent their websites from accepting Michigan orders and take steps to inform Michigan consumers that sales promotions do not apply to them. For their violations of the Michigan Consumer Protection Act, the defendants each agreed to pay $10,000 fines for misleading Michigan consumers.
“Let this be a deterrent for others trying to illegally ship alcohol into Michigan,” said MLCC Chair Pat Gagliardi, who was pleased with the result. “Such unregulated shipments of alcohol often evade state taxes and licensing fees, hindering Michigan’s three-tier orderly market of alcohol distribution that is designed to protect Michigan residents.”
One of the key goals of the three-tier system is to balance the availability of alcohol to consumers against excessively low prices that could overstimulate consumption. These permanent injunctions and fines help preserve Michigan’s authority to prevent out-of-state retailers like Vintner’s Collective LLC and Go to Gifts Inc. from undercutting Michigan retailer prices and escaping Michigan’s regulatory requirements.
Nessel and the MLCC will continue to pursue entities that attempt to skirt laws governing the distribution of alcohol.
It is the mission of MLCC to make alcoholic beverages available for consumption while protecting the consumer and the general public through regulation of those involved in the importation, sale, consumption, distribution and delivery of these alcohol beverage products.