Last week, the Supreme Court of Mississippi handed down an opinion in Fitch v. Wine Express Inc., No. 2018-SA-01259-SCT. A state court decision on the rather dry subject of personal jurisdiction often merits little comment, but the Fitch opinion features an emphatic rejection of the legal theory relied upon by many direct-to-consumer retail alcohol sellers today.

As a “control” state for wine sales, Mississippi law generally prohibits the importation, transportation and sale of alcoholic beverages (a term that includes wine) outside of the state’s monopoly control system. And, as in virtually every state, the retail sale of wine to consumers is reserved to state licensees and, in the case of control jurisdictions, the state itself.


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On August 30, 2016, following a one day bench trial, Cook County Circuit Judge Thomas Mulroy ruled in favor of Treasury Wine Estates (TWE) in Illinois False Claims Act (Act) litigation filed by the law firm of Stephen B. Diamond, PC (“Relator”). Relator alleged that TWE had violated the FCA by knowingly failing to collect