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Thursday, November 09, 2006 

Legally Defining Beer

I stumbled across an interesting section of a Civil Rights Act case tonight. It's Adams v Fazzio Real Estate Co., 268 F. Supp. 630. The case deals with whether or not a bowling alley with a snack bar is a place of public accommodation under the Civil Rights Act.

Under Section 201 of the Act, a place of public accommodation includes "any establishment (A)(i) which is physically located within the premises of any establishment otherwise covered by this subsection." Basically, if you have a big business/venue with a smaller, public accommodation qualifying business inside of it, then the whole larger business is considered a place of public accommodation. Here, the court is trying to determine if a snack bar is covered under the Act as a place of public accommodation, which would then make the bowling alley covered. Got it?

The defendant tries to claim that the snack bar is not similar to "any restaurant, cafeteria, lunchroom, lunch counter, soda fountain, or other facility principally engaged in selling food for consumption on the premises" because of its beer sales...
In essence, Fazzio's argument comes to this: The refreshment counter is not a lunch counter because it sells more beer than food. Beer is not food. When food and beer are sold together, but a greater dollar volume of beer is sold than food, the seller is not principally engaged in the sale of food. n8
The footnote contains some of my favorite language from a court. This is Judge Rubin of the District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana...
The plaintiff argues that beer is food, citing dictionary definitions, a pamphlet entitled "Beer as an Adjunct in Low-Sodium Diets," the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, 21 U.S.C.A. ยง 321(f); and cases applying that statute in which beer was treated as adulterated food within its terms; and various state court decisions in other contests. It is not necessary to decide here whether or not beer is food within the meaning of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, but the Cuevas case is persuasive on that point. In addition, what is "food" within the meaning of one law is not necessarily "food" within the meaning of another. Even as one man's meat is another man's poison, one man's intoxicant may be another man's food. And vice versa.
Amen to that, Judge Rubin.

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