A new front on the war for Florida growler freedom has been opened. This time, a Palm Beach Gardens attorney, Mark Miller, has filed a lawsuit on behalf of the Crafted Keg against the State of Florida in federal court.
Filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida in late October, the lawsuit is the latest challenge to Florida's ban on 64-ounce growlers, or jugs used for takeout tap beer. Retailers, like breweries and gas stations with beer taps, are allowed to fill growlers only in sizes of 32 and 128 ounces.
The trouble began with Northern tourists coming to Alex Piasecki's bar, the Crafted Keg, in Stuart wanting to fill their 64-ounce growlers they brought from out of state. Much to their chagrin, they were unable to because of the law.
Alex, along with his brother Matthias, are co-owners. Piasecki describes to Clean Plate Charlie that some people became upset.
"They got personally offended," he said. "They thought we were being prejudiced against them."
The Piaseckis are thinking about expanding their bar to nearby cities, but the growler law could be hindering their business. In the rest of the country, 64 ounces is the standard growler size.
"It doesn't make sense that I can get a small and a large but not a medium," he said.
Working with the Pacific Legal Foundation, a Sacramento-based law firm that advocates for individual and economic freedoms, Miller challenges the constitutionality of the law using the rational basis review argument. What this means is that Miller is arguing that the justification for the ban because doesn't make sense. Word got back to Miller's office in Palm Beach Gardens, and he decided to represent the Crafted Keg pro bono.
Specifically, the lawsuit targets Florida Statute 563.06(6), or growler prohibition. Miller told Clean Plate Charlie that he thinks the law was supposedly meant to curb excessive drinking but indicates there could be a little outside influence at work.
"The only real rational basis is that the distributors... are fighting any changes in the law," Miller said. "We don't think that's right."
As for the excessive drinking, he says, anyone can simply drink two 32-ounce growlers or one 128-ouncer.
Miller says it will not be an easy fight.
"The government can come up with any reason for the law even after the fact," he said.
Previous efforts to change the law through legislation have failed. Two bills introduced last year, Florida Senate Bill 1344 and House Bill 714, failed to even get enough votes to move beyond committee.
In the meantime, the Piaseckis cannot even fill 64-ounce growlers just a little bit or else they could face a fine or some jail time.
There is no telling how long it could take to rule on the case. Check out the lawsuit below.