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May 16, 2004
"Lawsuit alleges alcohol marketed to teens"
The lawsuit, which seeks class-action status, was filed by the Armonk, N.Y. firm of Boies Schiller & Flexner LLP and by "David Boies III, of the Fairfax, Va., law firm Straus & Boies," who is the son of Boies Schiller's David Boies (Nov. 6, earlier cites). Although it claims not to be (yet) a broad-scale assault on the liquor industry a la tobacco, the suit seeks to recover "unlawful profits" made by Coors, Heineken, Brown-Forman, Diageo, and others for such supposed atrocities as employing the Captain Morgan character to sell rum and advertising in rock music magazines. Also being sued is the trade association The Beer Institute. (AP/Salon, Nov. 26). As we noted in July, liquor companies "have been curiously absent from the list of targets of mass litigation campaigns in the U.S.A. in recent years; but see Mar. 22, 2000."
Juan Non-Volokh notes (Nov. 28) that Miller Brewing Co., which has been a client of Boies, Schiller & Flexner in the past, "is not among the named defendants in the suit. ... Boies claims this is because Miller is not one of the 'more egregious' actors in the industry". Julian Sanchez (Reason "Hit and Run", Nov. 28) discerns the ripple effects of anti-alcohol agitation by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and other Safety Dry forces. Jim Leitzel (Nov. 19) takes note of a study suggesting that alcohol advertising probably does raise the rate of underage drinking. Professor Bainbridge (Nov. 28) has some thoughts on the regulation-through-litigation angle. Further: for more on the Neo-Drys, see Radley Balko, "Back Door To Prohibition", Cato Policy Analysis #501, Dec. 5. (Update Feb. 16: second suit targets brewers).
[cross-posted from Overlawyered, where it ran Dec. 1, 2003]
Posted by Walter Olson at 09:03 AM
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Regulation Through Litigation