Winebow, Inc. v. Capitol-Husting Co, Inc. 381 Wis. 2d 732, 914 N.W.2d 631 (Wis. 2018)

Winebow, a wine importer and distributor, unilaterally terminated its relationship with Capital-Husting Co., Inc. and L’Eft Bank Wine Co. Limited, both wine wholesalers. The wholesalers claimed that this termination violated the Wisconsin Fair Dealership Law (WFDL), which prevents unilateral termination of a “dealership” absent good cause. The question in the case, certified to the Wisconsin Supreme Court by the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, was whether wine dealerships were protected by the WFDL, which encompasses dealers of “intoxicating liquors” but defines that term to exclude wine. The Supreme Court agreed with Winebow that this exclusion meant its termination of the wholesalers was not governed by the WFDL. Quarles & Brady represented Winebow in obtaining a declaratory judgment in the underlying litigation and in successfully defending the federal court’s interpretation in the Wisconsin Supreme Court, thus protecting the client from further claims by its former distributors.

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