Mast-Jägermeister awarded partial dismissal of suit filed by Major Brands over distribution agreement

By Marian Johns | Apr 8, 2019

ST. LOUIS – A federal court has granted in part and denied in part a liquor manufacturer's and other defendants' motion to dismiss a complaint filed by a Missouri wholesaler over the termination of an agreement.

According to the March 12 order, District Judge Henry Edward Autrey concluded that plaintiff Major Brands failed to state a cause of action for counts one and two (not establishing good cause to terminate contract and violation of Missouri Merchandising Practices Act); counts three and four (breach of contract and breach of covenant of good faith and fair dealing); counts five and six (recoupment and unjust enrichment); count seven (interference with plaintiff's business expectancy) and count nine (civil conspiracy). 

The court denied the request for jurisdictional discovery.

Defendants Mast-Jägermeister US Inc.; Mast-Jägermeister US Holding; Southern Glazer’s Wine and Spirits of Missouri LLC; Southern Glazer’s Wine and Spirits LLC; and Superior Wine and Liquors Inc. petitioned the court to dismiss seven counts of allegations by the plaintiff Major Brands Inc. centered around the alleged illegal termination of a distribution agreement. 

Major Brands, which sells liquor to licensed retailers throughout the state, had a "longstanding" distribution agreement with Jägermeister that included Major Brands' "significant" investment of money, time and human resources to help market and distribute Jägermeister's brands, the ruling states.

In February 2018, Jägermeister attempted to terminate the distribution agreement with Major Brands. The plaintiff claims the agreement can only be terminated after first showing good cause and that Jägermeister's attempt to end the agreement violated Missouri's Franchise Law. 

Jägermeister argued that the agreement termination had "nothing to do with Major Brands" and that it just wanted to consolidate nationally with defendant Southern, according to the ruling.  

Major Brands first filed the suit in the 22nd Judicial Circuit Court of St. Louis city in February 2018, alleging the defendants unlawfully terminated their franchise agreement and that one of the defendants, Southern Glazer, "interfered" with that franchise relationship and all defendants "engaged in a civil conspiracy," the ruling states.

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