Akin Gump Obtains 6th Circuit Win for American Beverage Association

(Washington, D.C.) – Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP scored a decisive victory on behalf of the American Beverage Association (ABA) before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit. In a unanimous ruling, the court decided in favor of the ABA that the “unique mark” requirement of Michigan’s so-called “Bottle Bill” is unconstitutional.

Michigan, like several other states, requires consumers to pay a small deposit when purchasing certain beverages in cans and bottles that is eligible for refund upon redemption with a state retailer. Over time, the state perceived a fraudulent redemption problem with consumers purchasing bottles elsewhere and then attempting to redeem them within the state, thereby reducing the money flowing to Michigan’s treasury. To remedy this problem, the Bottle Bill was amended to require that every bottle sold within Michigan have a mark “unique to the state,” such that the bottles could not be sold in any other states that did not have a “substantially similar” law.

On behalf of the ABA—a nonprofit association of manufacturers, marketers, distributors and bottlers of virtually every nonalcoholic beverage sold in the United States—Akin Gump filed suit in February 2011 challenging the law and its “unique mark” requirement, arguing that the amended law amounted to an unconstitutional infringement of interstate commerce.

On November 29, the 6th Circuit held the Bottle Bill’s “unique mark” requirement to be an unconstitutional violation of the dormant Commerce Clause in that it “impermissibly regulat[ed] interstate commerce by controlling conduct beyond the state of Michigan.”

Please  click here to read the court’s decision.

Founded in 1945, Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP, a leading international law firm, numbers more than 850 lawyers in the United States, Europe, Asia and the Middle East.

# # #