New Bill Could Change Alcohol Licensure at Logan Airport

The Massachusetts Legislature recently heard testimony regarding a bill that would change the liquor licensure procedure for vendors in Logan Airport. House Bill 99 would create a new class of airport alcohol license for vendors in Logan Airport.

Logan Airport currently has thirteen liquor licenses for forty vendors that serve alcoholic beverages. Generally, a single liquor license cannot be used to sell alcohol from more than one location. However, Massachusetts law provides for a special exception to airports and sports stadiums and allows for a single liquor license to be used for multiple vendor locations.

If House Bill 99 passes, each airport vendor will be allowed their own alcoholic beverages license. In turn, the existing thirteen liquor licenses can be made available for transfer within the City of Boston, outside the airport. Massachusetts law restricts the total number of alcoholic beverages licenses via a quota system. The airport alcohol licenses would not be subject to the quota.

Under HB 99, the airport alcohol licenses would be available for vendors within Logan only, and these licenses would not be transferable like a typical liquor license.

Two New Bills Before Governor Patrick Affecting Alcoholic Beverages Law in Massachusetts

Two new bills reached Governor Deval Patrick’s desk yesterday that could impact the way alcoholic beverages are sold and served in Massachusetts.

First, the hotly debated Casino Bill was finally passed by the Massachusetts Senate and House, and now awaits the Governor’s signature. As we mentioned in an earlier posting, a previous version of the legislation would have eliminated the statewide Happy Hour Regulations. Section 26(c) of the Casino Bill, if signed into law by Governor Patrick, will allow casinos to serve free drinks to patrons. In essence, the Happy Hour Regulations will not apply to casinos serving alcohol to patrons under a gaming beverage license. Service of free drinks will only be allowed in actual gaming areas.

To address concerns of the restaurant and bar industries, section 106 of the Bill mandates that the Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission (ABCC) study the impact of such competition between the gaming industry and on-premises alcohol retailers. The restaurant and bar industries are worried that free drinks at casinos may lure customers away from their establishments. At least two public hearings would be held across the Commonwealth, and the ABCC would issue a report no later than June 30, 2013.

The second bill passed by the legislature and awaiting the Governor’s signature expands the maximum number of off-premises (or package store) alcoholic beverages licenses any single entity can hold in Massachusetts. Previously, an individual, corporation, or other business entity was only allowed to have an interest in three alcoholic beverages licenses. If Governor Patrick signs Senate Bill 2033 into law, the maximum number will increase from three to five in 2012, seven in 2016, and nine in 2020.

Governor Patrick is expected to sign both bills into law early next week.

Robert W. Hurwitz and Eugene R. Richard Named Super Lawyers

Wayne, Richard & Hurwitz is proud to announce that Eugene R. Richard and Robert W. Hurwitz have been named Massachusetts Super Lawyers for the year 2011. Lawyers are nominated through a vigorous review process and only the top 5% of lawyers in Massachusetts are named Super Lawyers. Super Lawyers have attained a high level of excellence, peer recognition, and professional achievement.

Bob Hurwitz specializes in construction law, commercial and business litigation. This is Bob’s eighth time being named a Super Lawyer, and he has been recognized every year since 2004.

Gene Richard specializes in a wide range of business and legal issues, including contract negotiation and enforcement, administrative and regulatory law, and corporate law. This is Gene’s eighth time being named a Super Lawyer and has been recognized every year since 2004.

Irving Lara v. Domino’s Pizza, LLC, Domino’s Pizza, Inc., & Deutsche Bank National Trust Company

Wayne, Richard & Hurwitz LLP filed suit last week against Domino’s Pizza, LLC, Domino’s Pizza, Inc., and Deutsche Bank National Trust Company for the death of Richel Nova. The suit is filed on behalf of Irving Lara, the Administrator of Nova’s estate.

Richel Nova was murdered on the night of September 1, 2010 while delivering food to a house in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Boston. Nova worked delivering Domino’s food and was sent by himself to deliver to a house that had been abandoned for over two years. At the caller’s request, Domino’s instructed Nova to deliver food to the back of the house. Upon arrival, Nova was lured into the house, where he was allegedly robbed and stabbed to death by three suspects. The suspects are due to stand trial for Richel Nova’s murder.

In the Complaint, Lara alleges that Domino’s was negligent and is responsible for the wrongful death and conscious pain and suffering of Richel Nova. According to the Complaint, Domino’s placed Nova in a highly dangerous situation by sending him alone to deliver food to the back entrance of an abandoned house, while informing the orderer that Nova would be carrying cash.

In addition, Lara alleges that Deutsche Bank was negligent and is responsible for the wrongful death and conscious pain and suffering of Richel Nova. As holder of legal title to the abandoned property in question, Deutsche Bank had a duty to adequately secure the house to prevent trespassers and those who seek to use the premises for criminal activity. Deutsche Bank made no effort to secure a property that lay abandoned for over two years.

The following media outlets have also reported on the story:

Boston Globe
Boston Herald
Wall Street Journal
CBS Boston

Casinos and Happy Hour Regulations in Massachusetts

There has been much debate over whether Massachusetts should permit the establishment of casinos within the Commonwealth. In an interesting development, the Massachusetts Senate approved an amendment to the pending casino bill that would eliminate the famous (or infamous, as some would say) “happy hour regulations.”

Since 1984, the Massachusetts happy hour regulations have prohibited bars and restaurants from offering free or discounted drinks to their patrons. Specifically, the regulations require bars and restaurants to keep the price of a drink the same throughout the entire calendar week. Thus, no 5 p.m. discounts allowed, unless the bar or restaurant wants to charge the reduced price for the entire week. Bars and restaurants are also prohibited from altering the volume of your drink without proportionally altering the price.

The casino bill, if passed by the Massachusetts legislature, could change all of that. On Tuesday, October 11th, the Senate voted 25 to 13 to amend the pending casino bill. The amendment would essentially rid Massachusetts of the happy hour regulations for bars and restaurants, as well as casinos. The amendment must still be approved by the House and signed by the Governor into law.

The concept of the “free drink” is closely tied to casino gambling, presumably because it keeps gamblers motivated to continue gambling. Connecticut’s Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun casinos have long offered free drinks to its customers. It is thought that if Massachusetts’ casinos are to compete, free drinks are a necessity.

However, if casinos are exempted from the happy hour regulations, many bar and restaurant owners are worried that they will not be able to compete. Thus, the amendment to the casino bill would eliminate the regulations for bars and restaurants and create a level playing field.

It also remains to be seen whether Massachusetts casinos will allow smoking. Connecticut law currently allows gamblers to smoke and Connecticut casinos have set up gambling rooms where smoking is permitted. There is no smoking amendments currently in front of the Legislature.