Appeals from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Schuylkill County in case of In Re: Matter of Revocation of Importing Distributor License No. TID-586 Issued to William T. Lewis, II, t/a Nelson Beer Distributor, No. 14 Misc. May Term, 1972.
Albert B. Miller, Special Assistant Attorney General, with him Alexander J. Jaffurs, Assistant Attorney General, and Israel Packel, Attorney General, for appellant.
George G. Lindsay, with him Bashore and Lindsay, for appellee.
Robert E. Woodside, with him Shearer, Mette, Hoerner & Woodside, for amicus curiae, Pennsylvania Importing Masters Distributors' Association.
Lawrence Sager, for amicus curiae, United Steelworkers of America.
Judges Crumlish, Jr., Kramer, Wilkinson, Jr., Mencer, Rogers and Blatt. President Judge Bowman did not participate. Opinion by Judge Blatt.
[ 13 Pa. Commw. Page 417]
This appeal concerns the interpretation and application of Section 431(b) of the Liquor Code, Act of April 12, 1951, P.L. 90, as amended, 47 P.S. § 4-431(b). This section provides as follows: "Each out of State manufacturer of malt or brewed beverages whose products are sold and delivered in this Commonwealth shall give distributing rights for such products in designated geographical areas to specific importing distributors, and such importing distributor shall not sell or deliver malt or brewed beverages manufactured by the out of state manufacturer to any person issued a license under the provisions of this act whose licensed premises are not located within the geographical area for which he has been given distributing rights by such manufacturer: Provided, That the importing distributor holding such distributing rights for such product shall not sell or deliver the same to another importing distributor without first having entered into a written agreement with the said secondary importing distributor setting forth the terms and conditions under which such products are to be resold within the territory granted to the primary importing distributor by the manufacturer." (Emphasis added.) Section 441(e) of the Liquor Code, 47 P.S. § 4-441(e) further provides: "(e) No distributor or importing distributor shall purchase, sell, resell, receive or deliver any malt or brewed beverages, except in strict compliance with the provisions of subsection (b) of section 431 of this act."
[ 13 Pa. Commw. Page 418]
The essential facts in this consolidated appeal are undisputed. The appellee, William T. Lewis, II, trading as Nelson Beer Distributor (Nelson), was licensed by the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (Board) as an importing distributor.*fn1 He bought his malt or brewed beverages from licensed primary importing distributors who were supplied by out-of-state manufacturers; thus, Nelson was a secondary importing distributor and in his resales was clearly governed by the above cited sections. The Board found, however, that Nelson had sold and/or delivered malt or brewed beverages to Dauphin County licensees, although this County was not in the area assigned to the primary importing distributor by the manufacturers. Nelson was fined $100, in a summary proceeding, pursuant to Section 494 of the Liquor Code, 47 P.S. § 4-494, but the Schuylkill County Court of Common Pleas vacated judgment, asserting that the Liquor Code provisions were not violated.
The Board has appealed to this Court, contending that the statute prohibits a secondary importing distributor from selling malt or brewed beverages anywhere but in the "designated geographical areas" which have been assigned by the manufacturer to the primary importing distributor for the particular products
[ 13 Pa. Commw. Page 419]
of the manufacturer. The appellee argues, however, that the statute merely requires that the primary importing distributor may impose terms and conditions in a written agreement upon the secondary importing distributor only when the products are sold within the primary's designated geographical area. The statute, it is claimed, does not prohibit or restrict resales by the secondary outside the limited area of the primary. The secondary contends, as the appellee here, therefore, that the primary could have imposed restrictions on him within the designated ...