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Nessel and Liquor Control Commission Obtain $25,000 Default Judgment Against Distiller for Illegally Shipping Spirits

LANSING – Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel and the Michigan Liquor Control Commission (MLCC) announced a default judgment against Island Distillers, Inc., a Hawaii-based distiller, in their suit against the entity for making illegal sales and shipments of spirits to Michigan consumers. The suit alleged illegal activities by the distiller under the federal Twenty-first Amendment Enforcement Act and Michigan’s Consumer Protection Act.

Despite having received the summons and complaint, Island Distillers, Inc. failed to respond. Judge Mark A. Goldsmith of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan granted Nessel’s motion for entry of a default judgment on February 7, 2023.

“Whether they are shipping within Michigan, or across state borders, alcohol shippers must abide by Michigan’s liquor laws,” Nessel said. “We are appreciative that so many companies want to do business in our state, but they must abide by Michigan laws. I am grateful to the Liquor Control Commission for their excellent enforcement efforts in combating illegal shipments like these.”

The default judgment requires Island Distillers, Inc. to pay the state a fine of $25,000 for violating the Michigan Consumer Protection Act, as well as $402 in costs. The default judgment also permanently enjoins Island Distillers, Inc. from making illegal sales and shipments of alcoholic liquor to Michigan consumers.  

“The Commission will continue its vigorous enforcement efforts in partnership with Attorney General Nessel’s office to combat the illegal direct shipping of alcohol into this state, said MLCC Chair Pat Gagliardi. “These efforts protect the business interests of in-state licensed wholesalers and retailers to ensure fair competition and protect Michigan consumers.”

Each year, unlicensed companies skirt state laws and import thousands of bottles of wine into Michigan illegally. The effects of this illegal importation are significant: minors can easily obtain alcoholic liquor, state officials have no effective means to ensure that the imported products are safe, and Michiganders lose out on millions in tax revenue to provide vital services.

The Department of Attorney General, along with the MLCC Enforcement Division have been actively pursuing people who are shipping alcohol into Michigan illegally and have thwarted hundreds of entities’ efforts to violate state liquor laws. Most 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. 

To report suspected liquor law or rule violations anonymously, visit the MLCC Enforcement Division website.


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