Downer v. Liquor Control Comm'n.

Decision Date22 April 1948
Citation134 Conn. 555,59 A.2d 290
CourtConnecticut Supreme Court


Appeal from Court of Common Pleas, Hartford County; FitzGerald, Judge.

Appeal by Fay E. Downer from an order of the Liquor Control Commission denying appellant's application for a wholesaler beer permit. From a judgment dismissing the appeal after trial to the court, applicant appeals.

No error.

Joseph P. Cooney, of Hartford, for appellant.

Pasquale Vioni, Asst. Atty. Gen., and William L. Hadden, Atty. Gen., for appellee.

Ernest McCormick, A. A. Ribicoff, Charles J. Cole, all of Hartford, amicus curiae, for appellant.

Albert L. Coles, of Bridgeport, amicus curiae, for appellee.

Before MALTBIE, C. J., and BROWN, JENNINGS, ELLS and DICKENSON, JJ., concurring.

ELLS, Judge.

The plaintiff's application to the liquor control commission for a wholesaler beer permit for premises located at 54 Barbour Street in Hartford showed that the proposed backer was Liebmann Breweries, Inc., a New York corporation which was also the backer on a Connecticut out-of-state shipper's permit for beer only. General Statutes, Cum.Sup.1939, § 968e, provides that ‘no backer or permittee of one class shall be a backer or permittee of any other class except in the case of railroad or boat permits.’ The commission decided that the permit already held by Liebmann was in a different class from the one for which application was made, and denied the application because of ‘unsuitablility of backer.’ The plaintiff appealed to the Court of Common Pleas, it sustained the commission's decision, and the plaintiff has appealed to this court.

The Liquor Control Act was originally passed in 1933, Gen.St.Supp.1933, § 669b et seq., as a substitute for chapter 151 of the General Statutes, which dealt with enforcement of the liquor laws during prohibition. The act has been subjected to frequent amendment. Its purpose is to license, regulate and control the manufacture, distribution and sale of intoxicating liquor. The power to issue permits is given to the liquor control commission, which may, in a proper case, refuse to issue one to a particular person or for a particular place. Murphy v. Bergin, 118 Conn. 249, 260, 171 A. 433. Section 17, art. 1, of the act, Cum.Sup.1933, § 685b, provided: ‘Classes of permits. Permits shall be subject to the regulations of the commission and the provisions of this chapter and shall be of the following classes: (a) Manufacturer permit, (b) wholesaler permit, (c) package store permit, (d) hotel permit, (e) restaurant permit, (f) club permit, (g) tavern permit, (h) railroad permit, (i) boat permit, (j) druggist permit.’ Each class of permit is dealt with in a separate section or sections of the act which define the acts permitted and regulate the conduct of the business under them. Section 18, art. 1, of the act, Cum.Sup.1933, § 686b, defined the manufacturer permit. Subsequently amended, it provided, when this matter came before the commission, that such a permit should allow both manufacturing and wholesaling, and it allowed the holder of a manufacturer permit to apply for and receive a wholesaler permit. General Statutes, Sup.1941, § 454f.

In 1935, § 685b was re-enacted in the same language, except that manufacturer permits were divided into (a)(1) Manufacturer permit, or (2) manufacturer permit for beer only’; wholesaler permits were divided into (b)(1) wholesaler permit, or (2) wholesaler permit for beer only’; like changes were made as to package store and restaurant permits; and there was added (k) temporary permit.’ Public Acts 1935, Chap. 292, art. 4, § 6, Cum.Sup.1935, § 1027c. In 1939, § 1027c was amended by adding to it: (l) warehouse permit and (m) concession permit.’ Public Acts 1939, Chap. 280, § 1, Cum.Sup.1939, § 955e. In 1941, the legislature reenacted § 955e, providing that permits ‘shall be of the following classes,’ following this with a list of the various classes originally or subsequently incorporated into the statute, and adding: (n) out-of-state shipper's permit for alcoholic liquors; ( o) out-of-state shipper's permit for beer only.’ Public Acts 1941, Chap. 327, § 4, Sup.1941, § 453f. It also enacted two sections which define the new classes. Section 457f provides as follows: ‘An out-of-state shipper's permit for beer only shall allow the sale of beer only to manufacturer and wholesaler permittees in this state as permitted by law.’ The only subsequent modification relating to an out-of-state shipper's permit was effected indirectly in 1943 when permission was granted to wholesalers to import products from outside the United States. Sup.1943, § 525g. In 1945, the statute authorizing classes of permits was again amended, but these amendments are immaterial to the issues in this case. Sup.1945, § 622h.

Section 35 of the original act, Cum.Supp.1933, § 703b, was entitled ‘Limitation of permits. Loans' and provided that ‘no permittee of one class shall be granted a permit of any other class, and no backer of a permittee of one class shall be a backer of a permittee of another class' except as regards railroad and boat permits; and the section went on to limit loans or credits extended by manufacturers to permittees or backers, other than merchandizing credit in the ordinary course of business for a period not exceeding sixty days. Public Acts 1933, Chap. 140, art. 1, § 35. In 1935, § 703b was amended; the first sentence was made to read: ‘No backer or permittee of one class shall be a backer or permittee of any other class, except in the case of railroad and boat permits'; the provision as to loans or credits from a manufacturer was retained. Cum.Sup.1935, § 1047c. In 1939, § 1047c was again amended; the first sentence was as quoted above; but the statute was extended to make loans or credits in any form unlawful except for a period of thirty days, not only loans or credits from any manufacturer permittee to a permittee or his backer, but also loans or credits from the backer of a manufacturer permittee or from a wholesaler permittee or his backer. Cum.Sup.1939, § 968e. Section 968e expresses the legislative intent to eliminate the so-called ‘tied house’ evil. ‘The purpose of this statute is to prohibit the backer or permittee of one class of permit from being the...

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    ...charged with its enforcement. Griggs v. Duke Power Co., 401 U.S. 424, 433, 91 S.Ct. 849, 28 L.Ed.2d 158; Downer v. Liquor Control Commission, 134 Conn. 555, 561, 59 A.2d 290. When two bases for interpretation diverge, it is hard to conclude that conclusions which flow from them necessarily ......
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