Tennessee Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti filed a federal lawsuit against six online retailers for illegally shipping alcohol into the state, according to a state press release. The release states that these retailers “circumvented the state’s three-tier alcohol licensing system” by operating without a Tennessee-issued license and by violating state alcohol laws.
During a recent undercover operation, Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) agents observed illegal direct shipments from retailers Bottle Buzz, Cask Cartel Distilleries, The Liquor Bros, My Bev Store, Prime Time Liquors, and Wooden Cork Enterprises. The suit states that during the operation, TABC agents ordered alcoholic products from each retailer’s website, which were then delivered to Tennessee addresses. Upon arrival, agents found that the bottles were unauthenticated and untaxed. Cease-and-desist orders sent to each retailer by TABC attorneys allegedly went ignored.
The state is now seeking to cease the retailers’ unregulated deliveries through a permanent injunction under the Twenty-First Amendment Enforcement Act. Passed by Congress in 2000, the act allows state attorneys general to request injunctive relief against anyone violating alcohol transportation or importation laws. Skrmetti is also requesting civil penalties of up to $1,000 per violation, according to court documents. Currently, the TABC currently only permits the direct shipment of wine to Tennessee customers from outside of the state.
“I am very happy that General Skrmetti decided to prosecute this case,” TABC executive director Russell Thomas says in the release. “Our agents and staff worked hard to collect the evidence against these bad actors. Too often, we find websites operated by unscrupulous individuals willing to deceive consumers.”
This suit marks the first time in Tennessee history that an attorney general has pursued prosecution under the Twenty-First Amendment Enforcement Act, per the release.